How To Use HMRC’s Self Assessment Time To Pay Service

Calls for government support for the self-employed have continued in the face of local lockdowns. And it seems like they’ve been listened to. There is some good news for those unsure if they can afford their…

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Calls for government support for the self-employed have continued in the face of local lockdowns. And it seems like they’ve been listened to. There is some good news for those unsure if they can afford their 2019/20 Self Assessment tax bill: HMRC is enabling sole traders to spread the payments due in January 2021 over 12 months. This is known as the ‘Time to Pay’ scheme.

Using HMRC’s self-serve Time to Pay service, taxpayers are now able to set up a payment plan online. This payment plan will help sole traders break down their total bill into affordable monthly chunks, allowing them to pay their 2019/20 tax bill over the course of 2021. However, there are a few conditions…

Here, we explain exactly what the Time to Pay service is and how sole traders can benefit from it.

What is the Time To Pay service?

The Time to Pay service allows self-employed taxpayers to spread out the cost of their total January 2021 tax bill over a period of 12 months. As it’s self-serve, sole traders paying a Self Assessment bill of up to £30,000 are able to set up their payment plan without needing to speak with HMRC. Those with a liability greater than £30,000 are still able to apply but will need to call HMRC first.

According to HMRC, 95% of Self Assessment customers who are due to make payments on 31st January 2021 could qualify to implement this arrangement without speaking to an adviser. That is, provided they meet the following criteria:

  • They have no outstanding tax returns, other tax debts or payment plans with HMRC
  • The debt is between £32 and £30,000
  • The plan needs to be set up no later than 60 days after the tax payment’s due date (30th March 2021)

It’s important to remember that HMRC will still be adding interest to all outstanding debts from 1st February 2021. Therefore, if you can afford to pay your tax bill on time, you may save yourself money in the long run by paying it all in one lump sum as opposed to instalments.

Who benefits from the Time to Pay service?

Any sole trader who is unable to afford their tax bill in 2021. This is especially true of sole traders who deferred their payment on account in July 2020 and now owe a larger sum in January 2021.

Back in March, HMRC allowed sole traders affected by the pandemic to delay their second payment on the account until 31st January 2021. While initially, this was a popular decision, for some sole traders, that now means they owe a significantly larger amount in January.

Obviously, they couldn’t have anticipated that we would still be in the throes of COVID-19 and the continued impact this would have on their business. For this reason, this group, in particular, is most likely to benefit from the Time to Pay scheme, as it allows them to break their total debt down into 12 instalments over the course of the year.

While this won’t change the July 2021 or January 2022 deadlines, it may still help affected taxpayers balance cash flow and stay afloat in the meantime.

How do I access the Time to Pay service?

Before you can access the Time to Pay service, you need to file your Self Assessment tax return. So, if you’re one of those who have yet to be convinced by the many benefits of filing early, now’s the time to listen up.

Once you’ve submitted your tax return to HMRC, you’ll be presented with your tax bill. From here, you can determine how much you want to pay straight away, and then how much you want to pay each subsequent month.

Bear in mind that if you don’t keep up with your repayments, HMRC may well ask you to pay the entire amount in one lump sum. That’s why it’s important to ensure that you input an amount you can realistically cover, even in the event that the pandemic continues to impact your livelihood next year.

Already filed? You can set up your payment plan by logging in to the Government Gateway today. Alternatively, you can call the Self Assessment Payment Helpline on 0300 200 3822 and talk through your options.

You can even use this service going forward if you prefer to make regular payments in advance of your deadline, effectively replacing the second payment on account.

How GoSimpleTax can help

At GoSimpleTax, we enable you to log your income and expenditure in real-time so that you can submit a stress-free Self Assessment tax return. No surprises, no hidden fees, our platform lets you see what you owe throughout the year and builds your tax return automatically. The best part? You can trial it for free by signing up today!

We understand how difficult it is for sole traders right now. That’s why our software helps calculate your tax bill in real-time and then, by upgrading to a full account, file directly to HMRC with ease. We even flag any relevant tax relief to you so that you can reduce your tax bill where possible while remaining on the right side of the taxman.

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