The hotline comes with urgent advice form Customs for businesses to contact them immediately if they are facing difficulties.
Customs said today it could help businesses restructure their debts. A spokesman said appeals would be dealt with on a case-by case basis but Customs could help with flexible timing of repayments or could agree to spread repayments over an agreed period.
The spokesman added: ‘This comes as part of a growing realisation in government that this is not going to be over quickly.
‘It’s obvious that businesses apart from farmers have also suffered. We don’t want the small businesses in farming regions to go under.’
In addition, penalties for non-payment could be cancelled and interest on outstanding debts may be waived.
Customs also said VAT returns could be faxed but asked business not to send original returns if they choose to use this service.
Customs is targeting hotels, small retailers and farmers running businesses where VAT is due.
The hotline number is 0845 3000 157 and the fax number for VAT returns is 01702 366085.
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