Agreeing time to pay for self assessment debts

HMRC’s Talking Points webinar for agents on 12 January 2017 provided a reminder of HMRC’s approach to time to pay (TTP) for self assessment. 

HMRC has also announced that it is to launch a new online application process for agreeing TTP for self assessment debts, starting in February. 


The main points on agreeing time to pay are: 

  • TTP is agreed only where HMRC is satisfied that the taxpayer cannot afford to pay immediately.
  • Interest continues to be charged but a TTP arrangement which is put in place before a trigger date for late payment penalties (chargeable at 1, 6 and 12 months overdue) will stop these penalties being charged.
  • HMRC now expects a direct debit to be set up for all TTP agreements. Agents can agree TTP on behalf of clients, but the client will usually need to speak to HMRC to set up the direct debit.
  • HMRC expects all self assessment returns to have been filed before TTP can be agreed, but it is sometimes possible to make a temporary arrangement pending the submission of a return.
  • HMRC will confirm the arrangement in writing and is bound by the terms unless they have been misled, the terms and conditions are not adhered to or the taxpayer defaults.
  • HMRC Debt Management uses a risk-based approach when making decisions on TTP applications. Factors such as the size of the debt, length of time being requested and compliance and past payment histories are considered. The longer the term of the arrangement being requested, the more information will be required. Decisions are made on a case by case basis but agreements for longer than 12 months are unusual.
  • HMRC offers TTP to help taxpayers get back on track and will not agree an arrangement where it considers that the taxpayer cannot afford the payments or a business is not viable.
  • HMRC may refuse repeat requests. 

Further information is available in a Time to Pay Issue briefing and in the Debt Management and Banking Manual 

The agent dedicated line for Debt Management is 0300 200 3887.


Launch of an online application process

HMRC is intending to launch an online application process for time to pay. This is expected to start in February 2017 and to be available for amounts due under self assessment on 31 January 2017. 

The criteria are: 

  • The debt is less than £10,000.
  • The debt will be repaid before the deadline for the following tax year.
  • The self assessment return has been submitted.
  • The system will be open to applications for 29 days after the due date for the tax.
  • Applications must be made through the individual’s personal or business tax account. 

Disappointingly, the facility will not initially be available to agents but HMRC has indicated that it will consider extending access to agents.