Setting up Direct Debits for various taxes

Today, I decided to try and set up a direct debit to pay VAT for one of my businesses. All went well until I had completed the page requiring selection of the tax for which the facility was to be set up. The next page went to one requiring details of the payment to be made and the date on which it was to be paid. This is NOT what I consider relevant details for the setting up of a DD, which so far as I am concerned will remove the requirement for me to have to remember to make the payment required for whichever tax is to be paid.

Are HMRC incapable of handling the complexity of setting up online (Variable Amount) Direct Debit instructions? Most other organisations seem to do this quite happily, and HMRC have spent untold millions of pounds on their IT system upgrades over the last several years, only to demonstrate to the world that they cannot handle the sort of transaction implied by the words Direct Debit.

I would welcome other members comments on this visible inability to set up automated payment collection. I am prepared to tell my clients that they should set up DD's for all of their taxes, but only if HMRC can take the amount that is agreed by the submission of a prior tax return.
  • Chris, I think you'll find that the VAT direct debit will collect the amount due automatically without having to enter the amount each quarter.  For other taxes, we have to indicate the amount and date which is, as you say, not what one expects from a direct debit facility.  However, given HMRC's apparent ineptitude on occasions to identify correctly the amount that is due, I do wonder whether it is better to err on the safe side and not allow a variable facility for other taxes.  I do very much agree with you however that HMRC should be able to cope with variable amount direct debits for those who wish to use them.