What action can HMRC take if I fail to respond?


What action can HMRC take if you fail to comply?If you, as a business owner of a limited company, choose to ignore or fail to comply with HMRC obligations, serious consequences may arise. HMRC is responsible for enforcing tax and financial regulations in the United Kingdom, and non-compliance can lead to significant penalties and legal action.

Initially, HMRC may issue warnings, reminders, or penalties for late filing or payment. However, persistent non-compliance could result in harsher measures, such as tax investigations, freezing of company bank accounts, and the seizure of assets.

In extreme cases, the company directors may face personal liability for the company’s debts, and HMRC can seek winding-up orders to liquidate the company.

Ignoring HMRC can be financially damaging and potentially lead to the closure of your business, so it is essential to address tax and financial responsibilities diligently and seek professional advice if needed

What action can HMRC take if you fail to comply?

Responding promptly to HMRC’s communications is crucial for any business owner. Ignoring HMRC can lead to a host of escalating issues, and the consequences can be severe. As you mentioned, whether it’s about a penalty notice, tax bill, or any other matter, HMRC’s authority and powers of enforcement are extensive.

They can levy penalties, conduct investigations, freeze assets, and even take legal action to wind up your business if necessary. Avoiding or delaying communication with HMRC can only make matters worse, so it’s essential to address any issues or requests promptly and proactively to resolve them before they escalate into more significant problems.

When might HMRC contact you?

In some instances, HMRC may get in touch with you, either by telephone or in writing, with the purpose of seeking a response or notifying you about the necessity for action regarding a particular matter. These scenarios are just a few examples of potential situations:

Here are some potential situations where HMRC might contact you, and the consequences of ignoring their communication:

  • Not filing your company’s tax return or other statutory documentation
  • Failing to file your accounts
  • Not keeping proper business records
  • Paying the company’s tax bill late, or not paying at all
  • Continuing to trade when you know your company is insolvent, or you’re aware that it could be
  • Failing to provide a security bond when requested

Ignoring HMRC can put you and your company in a difficult situation – they can take action quickly if they believe you’re insolvent or are deliberately not responding.

What happens if you ignore HMRC?

HMRC has broad powers to enforce their decisions and requests. These typically involve penalties and other financial sanctions against your company, but also potentially personal liability for you and other directors, and closure of your company.

Financial Penalties:

Under HMRC’s stringent penalty regime, non-compliance with rules and regulations can result in swift financial penalties for your company. Even a minor delay in tax payment, as short as one day, can lead to a £100 penalty.

Enforcement Officers:

Upon receiving an Enforcement Notice from HMRC, you may encounter enforcement officers, who can be either HMRC officials or independent bailiffs appointed by HMRC. Their primary objective is to recover business assets of equivalent value to settle the debt, typically through a Controlled Goods Agreement.

Enforcement Action:

HMRC’s enforcement office may escalate matters by issuing a 21-day statutory demand to your company. Ignoring or failing to address this demand could trigger a winding-up petition, leaving you with only seven days to take decisive action to prevent compulsory liquidation. Swift and effective measures are vital during this critical period.

Ignoring HMRC’s Decisions:

Ignoring or delaying responses to HMRC’s decisions and requests can lead to serious consequences, potentially resulting in financial sanctions, personal liability for directors, and even the closure of your company. Timely compliance and seeking professional advice are essential to navigate these challenges successfully.

Don’t ignore contact from HMRC

HMRC’s Time to Pay Arrangement: A Viable Solution

HMRC understands that businesses may face temporary cash flow challenges, leading to difficulties in paying their tax bills on time. When such situations arise and your company’s viability is recognized by HMRC, negotiating a Time to Pay arrangement (TTP) becomes a potential solution.

The TTP arrangement typically spans three to six months and allows you to settle your arrears without incurring further late payment penalties. By engaging in this instalment plan, you can manage your tax liabilities more effectively during challenging periods.

However, it is crucial to honor the agreed-upon payments and not miss any deadlines. Failing to do so or ignoring HMRC’s communications may lead to severe consequences, including the possibility of a court petition to wind up your company.

Seeking Professional Assistance

Ignoring reminders and communication from HMRC can trigger swift and adverse actions from their end. Even if you address the issue later, your lack of responsiveness may have lasting effects on your records, potentially affecting future dealings with HMRC.

HMRC may interpret your unresponsiveness as a deliberate attempt to evade tax obligations, leading to suspicion of tax avoidance or evasion. This not only poses tangible problems for your company but also jeopardizes your relationship with HMRC in the long term.

It is essential to be proactive, respond promptly, and seek professional assistance if needed to navigate tax challenges successfully and maintain a positive working relationship with HMRC.

Read more: What is a HMRC criminal investigation?

Frequently asked questions

What are the consequences if you ignore HMRC as a limited company?

Ignoring HMRC can lead to penalties, financial sanctions, and even legal action, jeopardizing the stability of your limited company.

Can HMRC take severe measures for non-compliance with tax obligations?

Yes, HMRC has broad enforcement powers, and ignoring them may result in asset freezing, personal liability for directors, or even the closure of your limited company.

How can ignoring HMRC affect future business dealings?

Ignoring HMRC can leave a negative mark on your records, leading to suspicions of tax avoidance or evasion, and potentially hampering future relationships with HMRC.


As a company director, ignoring HMRC can have dire consequences for both you and your limited company. HMRC’s broad powers allow them to enforce decisions and requests with penalties, financial sanctions, and potential personal liability. Failing to comply with tax obligations and ignoring HMRC’s communications may lead to severe actions such as asset freezing, winding-up petitions, and the closure of your company.

Moreover, the negative impact on your company’s reputation and future dealings with HMRC cannot be overlooked. To safeguard your company’s interests and maintain a positive business relationship with HMRC, it is crucial to address their inquiries promptly, seek professional assistance when needed, and ensure compliance with tax regulations.

Proactive engagement with HMRC can help avoid the pitfalls of ignoring their requests and ensure the long-term viability and success of your limited company.

Worried about direct contact with HMRC, simply complete the online enquiry form to talk about your situation.

Insolvency & Restructuring Expert at Business Insolvency Helpline | + posts

With over three decades of experience in the business and turnaround sector, Steve Jones is one of the founders of Business Insolvency Helpline. With specialist knowledge of Insolvency, Liquidations, Administration, Pre-packs, CVA, MVL, Restructuring Advice and Company investment.