Mark Brewer Senior Partner

HMRC have made a number of changes for UK businesses affected by COVID-19 such as deferment of income tax and VAT payments / time to pay arrangements.


HMRC have announced that they will defer VAT payments for all UK businesses for 3 months.
This will be from 20 March 2020 to 30 June 2020 and will not require any applications.
Businesses will be given until the end of the 2020-21 tax year to pay deferred amounts.
VAT refunds will be processed as normal.

We can now clarify that this means:

  • The dates announced by the Chancellor refer to the deadline dates for payment, not the VAT quarters. VAT payments for quarters ending February, March, April 2020 can be deferred. Payments for all other quarters will need to be made on time. 
  • VAT registered businesses will still be required to submit their returns on time for the quarters where payment can be deferred.
  • VAT due for these quarters can still be paid by the usual deadline if preferred.
  • Where businesses have direct debit set up for paying their VAT, payment will be taken in the usual way. Businesses in this situation that wish to take advantage of the deferment will need to cancel their direct debit. It will also be necessary to remember to set it up again afterwards if the intention is to revert to this method of payment ongoing.
Income tax

HMRC have announced that payments on account for 2020-21 that are due in July 2020 will be deferred for the self-employed and will not be due until January 2021.
No applications will be required and no penalties or interest will be charged on deferred amounts.

We can now clarify that this means:

  • This offer is open to all who are taxed under self-assessment.
  • The deferment is described as an offer, so it would seem that any who still wish to make these payments by the usual due date may continue to do so.
HMRC time to pay

HMRC have set up a specific Coronavirus helpline for businesses and self-employed, to offer practical help and advice and to discuss time to pay arrangements. Time to pay is a provision for any businesses with outstanding tax liabilities outside of what is covered above.
The number is 0800 024 1222. Time to pay is agreed on a case-by-case basis according to need.

This is the number to ring if you have missed a tax payment due to COVID-19 or are unable to make a payment that is due in the next few days. HMRC have requested that the discussion of future debts falling due should be left until nearer the time. 

There is also the standard payment support service number 0300 200 3835 which is for any taxpayer and regardless of whether the payment difficulty is Coronavirus related.

Both helplines are open Monday-Friday 8am-8pm, Saturday 8am-4pm. We have found that waiting times on HMRC helplines can sometimes be shorter at 8am, but this cannot be guaranteed. 

Last updated: 26/03/2020
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