How to deal with HMRC if you need to get in touch

If you are a private individual, you can report a name or address change via the Government Gateway service, by post or via HMRC’s app. You can also do this by telephone; keep your citizen service number at hand.

For businesses, you must notify HMRC if your name, company name, personal address or trading address changes. You can also use Government Gateway, call or write to HMRC. For corporation tax you must first report this to Companies House.

You have the right to arrange all your tax affairs yourself. However, due to the complexity, time involved and penalties for missing payments, some self-employed people and businesses pay someone else to deal with HMRC on their behalf, such as an accountant or tax advisor.

They must meet HMRC’s set standards and will explain to you what you need to do to get them authorized to speak on your behalf. This usually involves filling out a form or using Government Gateway.

Mr Arnold added: “A tax agent acts primarily on behalf of a taxpayer in relation to interactions with HMRC. This includes preparing and filing tax returns, advising on payments due to HMRC and dealing with any queries that HMRC may ask.

“The tax agent may also provide advice on specific transactions or on the consequences of changes in tax law for his client. Whether you need a tax agent generally depends on how complex your tax affairs are, although many people with simpler tax matters may still choose to hire a tax agent to file their returns instead of doing it themselves. ”

While a real estate agent can save you time, it also costs you money. So you need to consider whether it is a service you need and can afford. In any case, you remain liable for the tax you have to pay and for the accuracy of your tax returns.

HMRC will write or call you and tell you what it wants to check. Some examples include taxes, self-declaration returns or PAYE administration and returns if you have staff. If you use an accountant, contact them instead.

When this happens, HMRC may ask to visit your home, business or adviser’s office, or ask you to visit them. If you do not send information or refuse the visit, you may have to pay a fine.

You will then get your money back if you overpaid, or you will have 30 days to pay everything you owe. There may be a penalty attached to any debt you owe, depending on when you informed HMRC, why you underpaid and how helpful you were during the visit.

VAT officials can inspect your records to ensure you are paying the correct amount. You will normally be given seven days’ notice, but they can call or visit without an appointment. You may want to postpone the appointment, especially if your company is about to enter a very busy period or if it takes longer to gather the necessary information. You should speak to HMRC directly about this using the contact details in your letter.

During the visit, HMRC will work with you to resolve any issues with your VAT. You will then receive confirmation on how to improve your records, along with the amounts of any overpayments, underpayments and penalties.

HMRC provides additional support to people whose health or personal circumstances make it difficult to get in touch. This covers a range of areas including physical, cognitive and sensory disabilities such as visual impairment or deafness. People experiencing abuse, mental health issues and financial problems, such as not being able to pay for food or rent, are also entitled to extra support.

You can choose to do this by telephone or via HMRC’s web chat by asking to speak to the additional support team. They can provide information in different formats or languages, support you with completing forms, give you more time or find someone to speak to HMRC on your behalf. If necessary, they can also visit you at home.

Mr Barton said: “The only way tax debts can be written off is through certain formal insolvency procedures. One of these is a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA), which in the simplest terms functions as a payment plan between an indebted company and its creditors, including HMRC.

“It is common for some of the company’s liabilities to be written off as part of the CVA terms, while the remainder is repaid through a series of monthly installments over a period of three to five years.

“HMRC will only likely agree to this and therefore write off some of the remaining balance if it believes it can recover a greater proportion of the debt in this way than if the company were liquidated instead. A company will continue to trade while in a CVA, so the company must have a realistic chance of succeeding in the long term.

“If the business has no chance of survival, liquidating an insolvent company will result in any debts that cannot be repaid from business assets, including what is owed to HMRC, disappearing along with the business. Although liquidation can be a way to clear HMRC’s tax arrears, it is not a suitable option for companies wishing to continue trading.

It depends on what tax you have to pay and the reason you haven’t paid.

Getting a time to pay arrangement will clearly indicate how long you have to pay because you can see when payments are due. An agreement of longer than 12 months is unusual.

If you have refused to pay or have violated your payment term, you will receive a formal reminder and a due date. After this point the consequences can be serious.

However, if you appeal a tax decision, you may be able to defer payment of any taxes or penalties until your appeal is resolved.

If you owe money, HMRC will usually let you know when it is due. If you’re not sure, you can contact them to ask.

You can object to taxes that you believe you should not pay. If HMRC agrees, they will adjust the amount you owe.

However, if you simply refuse to pay and do not enter into dialogue, the sanctions may include bankruptcy or forced closure of your company.

Taxes that have been correctly calculated can only be written off through insolvency processes. For example, a time-to-pay arrangement will not reduce the amount you owe or exempt you from any future tax payments.

Mr Arnold said: “Where a tax debt is final, HMRC will not normally waive the payment due. In most cases it is a matter of agreeing a payment plan with them.”

Tax fraud, where someone deliberately attempts to avoid tax by concealing, omitting or misrepresenting information, or by falsely representing information or circumstances, is very serious. This can include hiding income, lying on a tax return or smuggling taxable goods. You can go to jail for this.

There are different phone numbers for HMRC depending on your query. You may be able to go from one to the other without hanging up, but to save time it’s worth looking for the right number.