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HMRC internal manual

National Insurance Manual

Class 1A National Insurance contributions: Collection and reporting: The Limitation Act 1980


You will find comprehensive guidance about the Limitation Act 1980 and its effect on NICs in the Debt Management and Banking Manual (DMBM).

Important points

There are some important points to bear in mind when trying to collect and enforce payment of Class 1A NICs.

  • The Limitation Act 1980 does not apply to Scotland.
  • The Limitation Act 1980 does not absolve the debtor from National Insurance debt that is due and payable.
  • The Limitation Act does not allow us to enforce payment of Class 1A NICs which were due to be paid more than six years ago unless there has been deliberate concealment or fraud, see DMBM527140. Class 1A NICs due to be paid by 19 July 2003 became six years old on 19 July 2009. We cannot take action to enforce payment unless there has been deliberate concealment or fraud.
  • HMRC can make a County Court claim to protect NICs and interest due on the NICs as long as a claim is issued within six years. Such claims are referred to as protective claims. The debtor cannot then successfully argue against a claim for NICs and interest on the grounds that it was out of time.
  • If unpaid Class 1A NICs are within three months of the end of the limitation period described above, ask Debt Management to make a protective claim, see DMBM527150 and DANSP15800.


    Class 1A NICs due - 19 July 2004

    Six year limitation period ends - 19 July 2010

    Three months before limitation period ends - 19 April 2010

  • If a debtor refuses to pay National Insurance contributions that are more than six years old on the grounds of limitation, do not collect this part of the debt or commence proceedings if a defence of limitation would be successful (does not apply to Scotland).
  • Decisions issued under section 8 of the Social Security Contributions (Transfer of Functions, etc) Act 1999 do not 

    • protect a debt from the effect of the Limitation Act 1980
    • have to be issued before a protective claim is made (see DANSP14100)
    • prove a debt, they provide a right of appeal to a tribunal.