What to do if you can't pay your tax bill

If you can't pay your tax bill, the most important thing is not to ignore it. If the amount is wrong because of a mistake on your Self Assessment tax return, you can check and correct it. If you can't pay the bill straight away, you may be able to arrange to pay it later.

On this page:

Check your tax demand or Self Assessment Statement

If you're not sure your bill is right, it's a good idea to check the figures on your tax return. If you've accidentally added a nought to your income, you'll end up with a bill that's much bigger than it should be.

You could also check that you haven't used provisional figures in your return - if you have, your bill will be based on those figures. You will need to send the correct figures to have the bill amended.

Understanding your Self Assessment Statement

Make sure you've sent in your tax return

If you haven't sent your tax return to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), you should send it as soon as you can. HMRC will have estimated your tax bill and it may be too high. You will still have to pay penalties for sending your tax return late, but the longer you delay, the more you'll have to pay.

Find out about tax return deadlines and penalties


Check the different ways you can pay

You can now use your credit card to pay HMRC, as well as other ways such as a cheque, debit card or Direct Debit payment.

How to pay Self Assessment - read more


If your bill is right but you still can't pay

If your bill is right but you can’t pay, you must get in touch with HMRC as soon as you can. If you don't, your bill will go up. This is because penalties and interest will be added on.

If you get in touch straight away, you may be able to avoid paying penalties and come to an arrangement to spread your payments over a period of time. You will need to discuss your financial position openly with HMRC and bring any outstanding tax affairs up to date.

Follow the link below to read detailed guidance about:

  • exploring options to raise money to pay the bill
  • contacting HMRC
  • what happens if you ignore letters or demands
  • discussing your finances with HMRC
  • asking for more time to pay
  • your rights if you aren't allowed more time to pay

Find out more about problems paying HMRC


Organisations offering free advice on debt

There are a number of organisations providing free, confidential and independent advice on how to deal with debt problems. Follow the link below to find out more.

Organisations that can help you with debt problems


More useful links

How to pay Self Assessment