HMRC Insolvency and Enforcement workload

The HM Revenue and Customs insolvency and enforcement department in Worthing appears to have an increasing workload.

I believe there are several likely reasons for this. Businesses are continuing to withhold payment of PAYE and VAT liabilities, using any cash available to prop up their businesses. Fewer Time to Pay arrangements are being approved by HMRC and a lot of TTP arrangements are failing. The Revenue have also have resumed using seizure and distraint as a method for collecting overdue tax.

HMRC in Worthing are picking up the pieces, which probably explains the large number of Winding Up Petitions that dominate the Companies Winding Up Courts.

The only options for saving a company with a WUP are either paying the undisputed amount due or a Company Voluntary Arrangement and the Courts are generally happy to adjourn the Petition at the first hearing to allow time to either pay the bill or propose a CVA.

There is considerable evidence that HMRC are supporting the rescue of companies via CVAs although their focus is on proposals being realistic and incorporating fundamental change to ensure survival rather than continuing the old business model.

I am not yet clear whether the upsurge in HMRC Worthing’s activity relates to the traditional post recession increases in company failures when the market begins to grow, or whether the downturn is continuing and companies are just not able to hang on any longer.

However all of us in the restructuring profession must urge the directors of companies in difficulties to act urgently if they are to save their company, and that they or we as advisers keep HMRC fully informed of progress during the development of rescue plans.

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