Time to Pay arrangements - direct debit to become mandatory

15 July 2015

HMRC has provided advance notice about a change to the way they will expect customers to pay future agreed time to pay arrangements.

HMRC can use discretionary powers to agree to payment of a debt by instalments after the due date, where the customer is genuinely unable to pay by the due date and is able to commit to agreed payments to bring their tax up to date.

Direct Debit has always been HMRC’s preferred method of payment for any regular time to pay arrangement, however from 3 August 2015 payment by direct debit will be mandatory.

HMRC are moving to direct debit by default because:

  • It is more cost effective and more secure than other payment methods
  • It removes the chance that the customer will forget to make payment
  • Payments are more likely to be correctly allocated
  • Reduces the need for subsequent customer contact, saving time for the customer and HMRC
  • Direct Debit scheme includes a guarantee to protect the customer.

HMRC recognise that there will be exceptional circumstances where a customer is unable to set up a direct debit, perhaps because their bank account will not allow it. In such cases payment by other methods may be agreed.

It is not HMRC’s intention to routinely revisit any existing non-direct debit agreements however for any new agreements they will expect the customer to agree to payment by direct debit.

If readers have clients who can’t pay their tax liabilities on time and need to request time to pay, you might want to make them aware of this and advise them to have bank details available ready to set up the direct debit.

HMRC will update their guidance shortly to reflect the change.