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Corporation Tax – What Happens If Your Limited Company Cannot Pay?


What happens if I cannot pay Corporation Tax?

If you cannot pay your Corporation Tax, HMRC can take debt recovery action against your company. However, if you speak to HMRC and make them aware of the problems you are facing, you may be able to negotiate a Time to Pay (TTP) arrangement to give you additional time to clear your arrears and bring your tax account up to date.

What happens if my limited company cannot pay its Corporation Tax?

If you can’t afford, or are otherwise unable to pay your corporation tax bill in full or on time, it is vital you seek expert help and advice as a matter of urgency. When it comes to recovering Corporation Tax, or any other tax owed by a limited company, HMRC are relentless in their pursuit. The sooner you confront the problems you are having, the better the chance of a positive outcome.

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What is corporation tax?

Corporation tax is a corporate tax imposed on the profits of limited companies which are trading and registered in the UK. It is the responsibility of all company directors to register their business for corporation tax with HMRC. In fact this is one of the first things you will have to do once you beginning trading under a limited company structure; it is a legal requirement to do this within three months of starting to trade. Dormant companies do not need to register for corporation tax until a time when their status changes.

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Who pays corporation tax?

As a limited company, you will be required to pay corporation tax once you begin turning a profit, although losses can be carried forward from previous years. If you are operating at a loss you will not have to pay corporation tax but you will be required to notify HMRC of this fact. Sole trader businesses are not liable for corporation tax but they will, however, need to pay income tax on their profits.

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If you are experiencing pressure from HMRC for unpaid tax liabilities, you are far from alone. In fact HMRC is the most common creditor of businesses in the UK. For expert help and advice in tackling your tax debt, call our team.
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How much corporation tax will I have to pay?

The amount you will be required to pay will depend on the annual profits of your company. A company’s total profits are calculated on the money made through usual trading activity, as well as on any investments the company has, any money earned through rental income, and any profits made from the sale of assets.

The current rate of corporation tax for companies with profits under £50,000 is 19%; this is known as the small profits rate. The main rate of corporation tax is levied on companies with profits over £250,000 which is currently 25%. For those companies with profits between £50,000 and £250,000, they will pay tax at the main rate but this will be reduced by a marginal relief providing a gradual increase up to the 25% figure.

When is corporation tax due and how often do I have to pay it?

When your corporation tax has to be paid depends on your company’s corporation tax accounting period. For many companies this is 31 March, although yours may be different. Corporation tax is due nine months and one day following this date. For those companies with a 31 March accounting period end date, this would mean their corporation tax would be due on 1 January the following year. However, you must ensure you are aware of your own corporation tax deadline; ask your accountant if you are at all unsure.

Corporation tax is payable annually, and for companies with profits below £1.5m this should be done by way of a one-off payment. Companies whose profits exceed £1.5m will typically pay their corporation tax in four instalments.

While corporation tax can be complicated, it is your responsibility as a limited company director or contractor to ensure that this is paid on time. Failure to do so is an extremely serious matter and could result in HMRC petitioning for the compulsory liquidation and closure of your company if you let the situation continue unresolved.

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HMRC and Corporation Tax Debt

Failure to keep up with your obligations to HMRC, including corporation tax, will initially see you hit with financial penalties thereby increasing the amount you owe and exacerbating the issue. Charges will be levied from the moment your payment is late and interest will begin to accrue so it is vital you adhere to your payment deadline if you are in a position to do so. Continued late payment will see further action taking place through distraint, the issuing of a statutory demand, or even a winding up petition.

If you are either unable to pay your corporation tax bill or believe you will have no choice but to pay it late, communication with HMRC is key. The sooner you contact HMRC and make them aware of your situation the more options will be open to you and the less likely you are to face penalties or court action.

If you need more time to get the money together to pay the amount in full, you may wish to enquire about the possibility of paying your corporation tax in instalments. HMRC will consider requests from companies asking for additional time and may be able to help by setting up a payment plan. You can read our main page on HMRC Time to Pay (TTP) Arrangements here - 

Stopping a Winding Up Petition (WUP)

If the deadline for paying your corporation tax has already passed and HMRC are threatening to commence a winding up procedure or further court action, you need to act quickly to save your business. You can prevent the WUP turning into a Winding Up Order by disputing the amount HMRC claim you owe in corporation tax, or else prove that you are able to afford to pay back the money you owe and arrange for payment to be made.

If this is not possible, the other alternative to place your company into a formal insolvency procedure such as company administration or a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA). An administration process would temporarily halt legal action while the corporation tax debt is dealt with, while a CVA gives the company an opportunity to restructure and reduce existing liabilities by entering into negotiations with its creditors. Neither of these processes can be done without the help and guidance of a licensed insolvency practitioner who will not only be able to facilitate the procedure but also ascertain the best way for your company to deal with its current levels of distress.

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If your company is struggling with unmanageable debts, squeezed cash flow, or an uncertain future, you are far from alone. We speak to company directors just like you every single day, and we are here to give you the help and advice you need.
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Alternatives for Corporation Tax Debt

If you are struggling with corporation tax or any other debts and you feel the situation is beyond rescue, you may need to consider ways of closing the business through a formal insolvency procedure. Perhaps you know your company is not in a position to repay its tax arrears, or maybe the business has other considerable debts in addition to corporation tax arrears which you know the company is unlikely to be able to manage going forwards.

Real Business Rescue’s nationwide team of licensed insolvency practitioners can look at various options for your company when it comes to dealing with a corporation tax bill it simply cannot afford to pay, whether that be entering into a payment plan or closure options such as liquidation. Call our experts today to arrange a free no-obligation consultation.

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