A1.711 Distraint by collectors

Administration and compliance

A1.711 Distraint by collectors

Recovery of tax by distress

A1.711 Distraint by collectors

If a person neglects or refuses to pay the sum charged upon demand by the collector, the latter may distrain upon the goods and chattels of the person in default1. HMRC have issued the following factsheets explaining the process where HMRC officers can visit a taxpayer's home or business, seize possessions and arrange for them to be sold at a public auction:


    (a)     'What to expect when we visit you' (FFC1, England and Wales;) FFC1(NI) Northern Ireland; and FFC1(S) Scotland); and


    (b)     EF1 'Distraint—what it means for you'.

Distraint applies to partnerships and companies as well as individuals2.

A prior demand is essential. In Gibbs v Stead3 it was held that a reasonable time for compliance ought (under a corresponding provision in the Land Tax Act 1797) to be allowed to elapse between demand and distraint. The demand need not necessarily be made of the party himself, nor need the refusal be made by him; it may be made by an agent who communicates the demand to the party and the refusal to the collector. The amount due need not be specified if it is understood4. In practice a formal demand is normally served by

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