HMRC issue all Personal Liability Notices through the Personal Liability Notices Team within the Specialist Investigations Department in London.
Personal Liability Notices can only be issued in relation to unpaid company National Insurance Contributions (NICs), along with any late payment interest and penalties arising from those NICs. The Social Security Administration Act 1992 contains the relevant provisions about when and how HMRC can issue Personal Liability Notices.
The Specialist Investigations team features specially trained officers. It’s their role to carry out enquiries and investigations about companies where there has been an underpayment NICs.
They will seek to establish whether there is evidence to prove “on the balance of probabilities” that a company’s failure to pay NICs was the result of fraudulent intent or negligent conduct on the part of an officer of that company.
Personal Liability Notices are very serious as they go against the standard assumptions that a company is a separate legal entity and that a company’s officers cannot be held personally liable for a company’s debts. To hold a director or employee personally liable for a company’s taxes does not fit well with the concept of limited liability.
In light of the serious nature of the Personal Liability Notices, HMRC has been careful to train the specialist team about how and when they should be issued. There are clear internal guidelines that they must follow to ensure that the notices are only issued in appropriate circumstances and only where it is fair to do so. As the notices are all dealt with and issued by the same team, they should be used in a consistent manner.
The legislation is not meant to punish the officers of struggling companies, but rather very serious cases of non-payment where there has been fraudulent intent or a high degree of negligence on the part of the director.
This tightly-controlled process is in line with the assurances the government made when they were introducing the legislation into law.
The government stated that Personal Liability Notices would only be issued once a trained body of staff has fully investigated the facts. They should also have ensured they’ve taken all reasonable steps to ensure that the decision to issue a PLN has considered all of the relevant facts.
If you need to contact HMRC about a Personal Liability Notice, you should address your enquiry to:
Insolvency & Securities
Personal Liability Notice Team
3rd Floor, Euston Tower
286 Euston Road
London, NW1 3UQ
Need Personal Liability Notice Advice?
For free confidential advice on personal liability notices and help with your current situation, please contact us on 08000 746 757; or you can call Sue Collins directly on 07949 969 006.