VAT distress and diligence in relation to Northern Ireland and (prior to 6 April 2014) England and Wales
Regulations1 made under FA 1997, s 51 provide2 that an officer may distrain on the goods and chattels of a person who neglects or refuses to pay tax which has been demanded from him and which he is required to pay under the VAT legislation. No distress may be levied in respect of an amount of VAT due under VATA 1994, s 73(9) until the period for an appeal has elapsed3.
Distress is levied by an authorised person4 who is authorised by way of warrant signed by an officer5. In the normal course of events an authorised person visits the person in default in the company of a bailiff with a view to levying distress and the visit proceeds to a formal levy – usually by way of a walking possession agreement – where immediate payment is not forthcoming6.
A levy of distress must be executed by an authorised person personally or under his direction and in his presence7.
Where a warrant for distress has been signed, the person concerned is liable for all costs and charges in connection with the distress, whether or not a levy is