Small businesses struggling to pay tax bills reporting long waiting times to get through to Revenue & Customs before self-assessment deadline
Small businesses struggling to pay their tax bills are reporting long waiting times to get through to Revenue & Customs before the self-assessment deadline on Tuesday.
Some are waiting on hold for hours, a situation which is only adding to the stress of those struggling to pay after the pandemic hit their profits.
Julie Simmonds (not her real name) runs her own HR consultancy in Sussex. Due to a downturn in business as a result of the pandemic and taking maternity leave, she was forced to dip into her tax savings to meet expenses and is now unable to pay a £25,000 tax bill.
Struggle: Some businesses are waiting on hold for hours, a situation which is only adding to the stress of those struggling to pay after the pandemic hit their profits
‘I’ve spent hours on the phone trying to talk to someone who can help,’ says Julie. ‘I’ve offered to pay £500 a month to reduce my bill until I’m back working full time, but they said no.
‘I’ve never had trouble paying my tax before, but they just don’t want to know. It’s been incredibly stressful.’
Another sole trader says: ‘I spent six hours on hold last week and still haven’t resolved the issue. I spent my weekend worrying about it as they just don’t answer the phone.’
Martin McTague, national chair of the Federation of Small Businesses, says: ‘It’s a crucial time for small businesses and the self-employed as the tax deadline looms, so small firms struggling with their bills should contact HMRC as early as possible to see if they are eligible for a Time to Pay plan.
‘HMRC must not drop the ball by forcing small business owners to spend time on hold before actually speaking to someone.
‘Admitting you need help with your bills is daunting enough as it is, and long call answer times just add to that burden.’
Emma Jones, founder of small business support platform, Enterprise Nation, says: ‘We would urge businesses to develop a risk management plan to minimise the impact of increased costs, keep on top of cash flow by chasing payments and get into the habit of regularly setting money aside to pay for tax.’
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