HMRC holds back stats on Time to Pay

The taxman is withholding statistical information reg­arding the tax deferral
scheme for businesses, Time to Pay (TTP), while it reviews the future of the
data, hitting insolvency practitioners and business advisers.

The information is used by insolvency practitioners to determine if a
business is likely to be successful in achieving a TTP, or whether time and
effort could be better utilised pursuing another strategy to protect the
business. IPs could be “advising in the dark” said Ian Vickers, partner at
insolvency firm FRP.

“It is difficult to advise with certainty without the information,” he said.

However, Alvarez & Marsal senior tax director Colin Keane believes
companies will continue to apply for TTPs, regardless of the lack of

Businesses facing insolvency would not be concerned about the lack of data –
they would approach HMRC regardless, he said.

In HMRC’s latest annual report, released in March, TTP agreements were
estimated to be more than £5bn. However, the recent blackout of information
could be a sign the taxman is tightening up on its previously relaxed admittance
policy to TTP schemes.

Although TTP will be available to companies until 2015, HMRC may be reducing
the length of time TTPs run. It could bring many schemes down to 12 months from
the previously set standard of 18 months. It could also reduce the number of
businesses approved, suggested Vickers.

It sends a message to businesses and IPs that by failing to reveal the data
the taxman is “not looking to make things easier”, he said.

At the time of going to press, HMRC had no date for when the review is due to
be completed.

A HMRC spokesman said: “”Publication of the statistics has no direct bearing
on the level of service that HMRC provides for the Business Payment Support

“There has been no change in HMRC’s policy or criteria for TTP, which has
long been a feature of HMRC’s approach to tax debt collection. Each case is
considered entirely on its own merits.”

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