What to expect when we visit you Your rights

What to expect when we visit you
The information in this factsheet only applies to people and businesses in
Northern Ireland. Those based in England and Wales should refer to
FFC1 ‘What to expect when we visit you (England and Wales)’. Those based in
Scotland should refer to FFC1(S) ‘What to expect when we visit you (Scotland)’.
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is visiting you today because you have not paid
your debt. This leaflet explains what will happen during the visit, what your rights are and how we will work with you to make sure that the amount you owe is settled.
Why are you visiting me?
We are visiting you because we have already attempted to contact you by post and/or by phone, to advise you that you owe us some money. As we have not
received the amount that you owe we are now visiting you to collect payment.
Who am I being visited by?
Only direct employees of HMRC, known as Field Force Collectors, visit our
customers. We do not employ debt collection agencies to visit the homes or
businesses of customers. All our Collectors carry HMRC ID and will show this to
you if you ask to see it.
If you are concerned about whether the person on your doorstep is really one of our Collectors, you can check by phoning the HMRC Verification Helpline on 0300 200 3862 or go to www.hmrc.gov.uk/contactus/debtcollection
What if I don’t agree that I owe you any money?
Your rights
We cannot use force to enter your
premises to distrain, unless authorised
by a Justice of the Peace.
For tax and National Insurance
contributions debts (including tax
credits overpayments) we will only call
between sunrise and sunset. We will try
to call during normal working hours.
For VAT and Excise debts we will call
between the hours of 8am to 8pm
unless your business operates outside
these hours.
We cannot call on Sundays and
public holidays.
‘Your Charter’ explains what you can
expect from us and what we expect
from you. For more information go to
Getting advice
You can get free independent advice
from Citizens Advice. Local offices are in The Phone Book or go to
TaxAid www.taxaid.org.uk
National Debtline 0808 808 4000
If you do not agree that an amount is owed, we will check what you tell us. If you
believe that you have already paid an amount you will need to provide evidence to support this, for example, proof of payment.
What to expect during our visit
Our Collectors have the right to seize your goods in order to settle your debt. If this
happens, they will select the goods from your home or business, list them on an
inventory, and then arrange for an auctioneer to take them away. These items will
then be impounded until they can be sold at auction. The funds raised, minus any
costs, will be used towards settling your debt.
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What legal action can the Collector take?
The purpose of every visit is to collect payment in full. If you cannot pay in full,
the Collector will ask about assets you own that could be listed to secure the debt.
Once any assets have been identified and viewed by the Collector, they will enter
the details of these on form C204 ‘Distraint notice and inventory’, which includes a
Walking Possession Agreement. The C204 lists:
• the type of tax due
• the amount outstanding
• any costs incurred
• the inventory of goods listed – it should be signed by you and the Collector
The goods listed remain with you for the period of the Walking Possession
Agreement. If you do not pay the debt by the time that the Walking Possession
Agreement expires, your case will be passed to an auctioneer, who will remove your
goods and sell them at auction.
If you refuse to sign the Walking Possession Agreement the Collector can instantly
remove the identified assets. The Collector will arrange for the auctioneers to
attend immediately to remove the goods.
What must the Collector legally do?
They must:
• see the goods that are being seized
• leave a copy of the C204 ‘Distraint notice and inventory’ with the taxpayer – this
gives the date that the Walking Possession Agreement expires and the address
where payment can be made in order to stop the listed goods being removed
What must I legally do?
You must:
• pay the amount of the debt plus the costs detailed on the C204 ‘Distraint notice
and inventory’ to avoid removal of the goods
• allow access to an auctioneer if goods are to be removed
For more information about distraint, please refer to factsheet EF1ni ‘Distraint –
What it means for you’, go to www.hmrc.gov.uk/factsheets/ef1-ni.pdf
For information about bailiffs, go to www.gov.uk/your-rights-bailiffs
We have a range of services
for disabled people. These
include guidance in Braille,
audio and large print.
Most of our forms are also
available in large print.
Please contact our helplines
for more information.
Field Force Collectors are HMRC officers
from HMRC’s Debt Management and
Banking (DMB) team.
These notes are for guidance only and
reflect the position at the time of writing.
They do not affect the right of appeal.
HMRC Digital Service
April 2014 © Crown copyright 2014
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