How HMRC collects unpaid Corporation Tax

At times you may struggle to pay your company or organisation's Corporation Tax on time. If this happens, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) will take action to collect any unpaid tax.

If you continue not to pay, HMRC will take action to collect any unpaid tax.

This guide provides an overview of how HMRC goes about this and tells you where to find more detailed guidance.

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HMRC's process for collecting unpaid Corporation Tax

If you can't pay your company or organisation's Corporation Tax, don't ignore any correspondence or phone calls from HMRC. Contact HMRC immediately to discuss the problem.

If you don't do this and you don't pay on time, HMRC will send your company or organisation reminders. These reminders will be sent by post. HMRC may also phone you to discuss what you owe. They'll try to reach agreement with you to settle your bill.

If HMRC doesn't hear from you, or you've not satisfied them that your company or organisation can't pay its Corporation Tax, they will take legal action to collect the debt. What happens next depends on what country in the UK your company or organisation is registered in.

What to do if you can't pay Corporation Tax

Read more about what will happen if you ignore your bill

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Recovering unpaid tax: England and Wales

If your company or organisation's registered office is in England or Wales, HMRC will take action to recover what you owe. This may include:

  • visiting your business premises to obtain payment or take control of your business assets and sell them at auction, from 6 April 2014 the taking control of goods process will attract additional fees.
  • taking legal proceedings to collect the debt through the courts
  • in some extreme cases, applying to the court to have your company closed down

Remember interest is accruing from the date your Corporation Tax was due until it's eventually paid. This is on top of the Corporation Tax you owe.

Read about recovery of unpaid tax: England and Wales

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Recovering unpaid tax: Northern Ireland

If your company or organisation's registered office is in Northern Ireland, HMRC will take action to recover what you owe. This may include:

  • visiting your business premises to obtain payment or seize your business assets by distraint and sell them at auction
  • taking legal proceedings to collect the debt through the courts
  • in some extreme cases, applying to the court to have your company closed down

Remember interest is accruing from the date your Corporation Tax was due until it's eventually paid. This is on top of the Corporation Tax you owe.

Read about recovery of unpaid tax: Northern Ireland

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Recovering unpaid tax: Scotland

If your company or organisation’s registered office is in Scotland, HMRC will take action to recover what you owe. This may include:

  • applying to the sheriff court as soon as possible after the date of the demand letter for a warrant to collect debts owing to them
  • starting sequestration proceedings (bankruptcy in Scotland)

Read about recovery of unpaid tax in Scotland

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More useful links

Problems paying HMRC: advice for businesses, individuals and tax agents

Organisations that can help you with debt problems

Find your Corporation Tax Office

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