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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

Time To Pay (TTP): introduction: payment promises

A payment promise is a where a customer advises us that they will make payment at some point in the next 14 days.

Payment promises are distinct from TTP in that they are often a one sided offer from the customer as opposed to a negotiated payment plan that is considered and then agreed by HMRC.

On some occasions we can informally agree to withhold recovery action for a short period to allow the customer to make payments, but we don’t issue agreement letters or set up TTP arrangements on our computer systems. In other cases we will continue action to secure payment irrespective of the promise made by the customer

When speaking to a customer that advises that they will make full payment in the next 14 days you must always:

  • ask why payment was not made/will not be made on time
  • tell the customer that we expect future payments to be made in full and on time.

There is no requirement to check IDMS action history notes, the VISION DS screen or the default count on BROCS. Instead, you should form your judgment based on the conversation you have with the customer.

If you agree to the payment promise

If you agree to the payment promise:

  • advise the customer of our next action (including enforcement in default)
  • remind them about penalties, surcharges, interest and so on as appropriate
  • educate them on the importance of paying on time.

In these cases you can withhold recovery action for up to 14 days to allow the customer to make payment. If the customer makes payments as agreed and contacted us before they became liable to a penalty they can be considered to have met the conditions in S108 of the Finance Act 2009 and will not be liable to a late payment penalty.

You must make sure that the customer is aware of the consequences of not making payment as agreed and if an enforcement warning letter has not already been issued you should make sure that one is issued immediately.

If you do not agree to the payment promise

You must make it clear to the customer that this promise of payment does not constitute a two-way agreement and any late-payment penalties will still be charged and we will look to take enforcement action as soon as possible.

If no enforcement warning letter has been issued you should arrange for one to be issued straight away.

Repeat payment promises / persistent late payers

We must not allow customers to continually make payment promises or repeatedly pay late. In all cases where the customer wants a short period of time to send payment or advises that “payment is in the post”, you must ask why payment wasn’t made on time and tell them that we expect payments to be made in full and on time. Even if customers require only a short amount of time you should encourage them to find alternative ways to pay their tax on time, such as arranging an overdraft/loan through a commercial provider to make up the shortfall.

Customer wants longer than 14 days to make payment

Where the customer can’t pay within 14 days you will need to discuss the reasons for this and where appropriate negotiate a TTP arrangement with the customer. Where TTP is agreed you will need to ask for an immediate payment, agree regular payment amounts and dates, issue an agreement letter and set up the arrangement on the appropriate system in line with DMBM803700.