HMRC Bailiffs – What Rights do Enforcement Officers Have?

What can HMRC bailiffs take? This is one of the questions most commonly asked by directors who have received a Notice of Enforcement

The answer isn’t simple. HMRC will send an enforcement officer (who is an HMRC employee) or a bailiff (who is not an HMRC employee) to carry out the collection of the tax debt. An HMRC enforcement officer will always carry an identity card and will be able to show this to you if you request it. Any HMRC bailiff will be able to show you a letter authorising them to act on HMRC’s behalf. In practice, it doesn’t make a huge amount of difference to what they can do, but you should know who has visited your company in case you need to raise any complaints about their behaviour or actions.

What Can HMRC Bailiffs Take?
Answer
Can an HMRC bailiff forcibly enter your business premises?They can force entry when they have official authorisation from a Justice of the Peace
Are they allowed to take things that do not belong to us?Nothing hired, rented or borrowed can be seized by HMRC
Can HMRC bailiffs enter my home?They cannot, unless your home is your registered business address. In that instance, they can only take company assets.
What will happen to any goods that are seized?They will be sold at public auction

What are HMRC Bailiff’s Legal Rights?

We’ve put together a list of frequently asked questions and answers to help you understand what HMRC’s enforcement officers and their appointed bailiffs can and can’t do.

Can an HMRC Bailiff Force Entry?

The idea of someone forcing their way into your company or residential premises is very distressing. Be assured, in most cases, the answer to this question is no, but there are some exceptions for unpaid tax arrears.

For a company’s tax debts the enforcement officers or bailiffs may be able to use reasonable force to force entry into commercial premises if they have been granted permission by the courts. They cannot force entry if the premises are residential (for example, your home) or part-residential. If this is the case, they will need to come during certain hours and using normal modes of entry. Normal modes of entry will include any open doors (but not over walls or through open windows) or if someone else (who is over the age of 16) lets them in.

Can Bailiff’s Take Items That Don’t Belong To Me?

No, they can only take property that is fully owned by you. This means that property that’s been hired, rented or borrowed cannot be seized by HMRC. If the officer tries to seize property that you don’t own, you should tell them that it does not belong to you.

What are Bailiff's Legal Rights

What Can the Bailiffs Take From My Home?

As the director of a limited company, this will depend on whether your home contains any of the company’s assets. If your registered office is your home address, HMRC’s bailiffs can seize property from your home but only if they are company assets and not personal assets.

Can HMRC Take My House For a Limited Company Tax Debts?

The short answer to this is no. If your home is in your name, HMRC cannot seek to seize it to recover your company’s tax debts. However, if it’s in the company’s name HMRC won’t seize it but may instead force the company into liquidation using a compulsory liquidation so that the value of the property can be realised and distributed to the company’s creditors.

Can a Bailiff Take My Car?

If the car belongs to you personally, the same rule will apply as above – HMRC’s bailiffs or enforcement officers will not be able to seize it to satisfy your company’s tax debts unless you have given them a personal guarantee.

If the car belongs to the company, they can seize the car as part of the property taken to satisfy the company’s debt. This may mean that they clamp the car to prevent it being removed without their consent before they can remove it themselves.

If the car is only partially owned by your company – for example, if it is subject to a finance agreement, they cannot seize it as it is not fully owned by you.

Get in Touch for Free Advice

For more information on the powers of bailiffs and what they can take please contact us on 08000 746 757 or you can use our live chat feature or email us at info@companydebt.com.

Author: Mike Smith

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