Published: 20th October 2014
I am self-employed and in tax arrears of around £9,000. This morning I have had a visit from an HMRC officer who handed me an EF1 Notice of Distraint leaflet which threatens that HMRC can seize my possessions and arrange for them to be sold at public auction.
It also states that I have two choices: sign the Distraint Notice and if payment is not made within five days an auctioneer will take my possessions away for sale... or don't sign and HMRC can take the goods immediately. Can HMRC do this?! Please help.
Unfortunately the answer is a resounding 'yes', as HMRC have extensive powers to assist them in the collection of taxes due. However, this does not mean there are no options open to you. What those options are will depend on what other debts you have and what assets you own.
It may be possible for you to agree a time to pay (“TTP”) arrangement allowing you to pay the debt over a period of up to 12 months. If you enter into a walking possession agreement with the enforcement officer (bailiff) it may be that he agrees to collect regular weekly or monthly payments whilst retaining rights over your goods.
However it is unlikely that you would get much longer than a few months. This is something worth discussing with the bailiff now. If you have other liabilities then it may be worth speaking to one of our insolvency practitioners about the options available to you, which would include proposing a voluntary arrangement. This is of course subject to your specific circumstances.