Life is tough on the front line of accountancy. For more than five years, our intrepid correspondent has been bringing us news and views from a typical West Country practice.
No time to pay - and no money either
My recent experience is very much in line with the commentators on the recent article on HMRC's attitude towards Time To Pay arrangements - i.e that despite the Government's claims to the contrary (and even stated in this year's Budget) they are pretty much a thing of the past.
I am happy to give them a try for any worthy looking case, but there are many cases now where I have told clients that it's simply not worth applying for TTP. Those who has TTP arrangements in previous years tend to think there's an automatic entitlement to pay their taxes by 12-36 easy monthly instalments!
It looks to me as is the end of TTP is going to provide plenty of, albeit rather thin, pickings for insolvency practitioners this year. For many businesses some form of formal insolvency arrangement is going to be their only option.
The trouble is, HMRC don't seem to care. Has anyone else tried to argue common sense with the (very inappropriately named) Business Payment Support Service?
"My client wants to avoid bankruptcy, he's offering full settlement of the liability over the next 18 months."
"Sorry, we're unable to offer any Time To Pay arrangement in this case."
"But if you make him bankrupt HMRC won't get a penny of the money owed."
"I understand that. The answer's still no."
In other words, HMRC appears to be keen to clear as many unpaid tax cases as possible, as quickly as possible. If that means bankruptcy/liquidation with little or no proceeds going to the Treasury, so be it. At least the list of taxpayers with arrears will be shorter, so that's another HMRC target achieved!
It's the same logic as taking people off the unemployment register and putting them on Government-funded training schemes instead. Move the deckchairs around and hope no-one notices.
Did someone shout "iceberg!"?