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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

Enforcement action: taking control of goods (TCoG): removal and sale of seized goods

Removal (unless sale on site)

When the enforcement agent first attends the debtor’s premises with the intention of transporting the goods to the place of sale (or from commencing preparation for sale if the sale is to be held on the premises), this triggers the sale or disposal fee stage. The Fee 3 charge is currently £110 plus 7.5 per cent of the outstanding principal debt which exceeds £1,500. The enforcement agent should contact the TCoG Support Team to advise when this charge has been incurred and they will then:

  • increase the taking control fee on ETMP to include Fee 3
  • ensure that the enforcement code on IDMS is changed (This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000) .

Where goods are removed for sale, the enforcement agent must take good care of them, issue a valuation to the debtor and any other co-owners and give notice of sale to them in accordance with the regulations (see the following sections).

Care of controlled goods

When the enforcement agent removes the controlled goods:

  • they must keep them in a similar condition to what they were in immediately prior to taking control of them
  • they must be removed to storage unless they are removed for sale
  • the storage must be secure and of such conditions that the goods are prevented from damage or deterioration whilst they remain under the enforcement agent’s control.

Valuation of controlled goods

The notification of valuation and sale must be given to the debtor by an enforcement agent; therefore, it is desirable that the auctioneer is a certificated enforcement agent (or sub-contracts the work to one who is certified), otherwise the notice must be given by an officer of HMRC.

Reserve price

Under TCoG, a reserve price can be set and if it is not reached then the goods can be withdrawn from sale and entered into a later sale. It is not, however, the operational policy of HMRC to set a reserve price other than in exceptional circumstances. However, if the auctioneer feels that a reserve price should be set then refer the case to your manager for consideration.

Notice of sale and minimum periods

The enforcement agent must give the debtor and any co-owners written notice of the sale at least seven clear days before the date of the sale.

Your auctioneer should not sell the controlled goods until seven clear days after the goods are removed to storage (or for sale on site, not until the seven clear days have ended).

However, if exceptionally waiting seven days in either of the above circumstances means the goods may deteriorate, become unsaleable or their value be substantially reduced, the enforcement agent may arrange for this period to be reduced by:

  • issuing the notice the day before the sale
  • arranging for the sale to be the day after removal.

It follows that the date of removal and issuing of the notice of sale must be co-ordinated to meet these requirements. The notice of sale must be signed and issued by an enforcement agent so it may only be issued by the auctioneer if he is a certificated enforcement agent. The details and information required on the notice of sale and the different methods of giving notice have not been included in this guidance as it will be the duty and responsibility of the appointed auctioneer.

Methods of sale

Sale should be by public auction which includes the use of internet and online auction sites. However, where the auctioneer feels that it would be more beneficial to the Department to sell the goods by public tender, private treaty or contract or any other method, these will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the TCoG Team.