Being indebted to HMRC can pose a serious problem for your business and there is some confusion as to just how HMRC can recover these debts. We are sometimes asked about HMRC bailiffs and their rights. Actually, there is no such thing as an HMRC bailiff – HMRC field officers and bailiffs acting on instruction from HMRC are two different entities, and bailiff rights are limited. So, before you begin to panic over what a bailiff can do if one shows up on your doorstep, Jason Elliott at The Insolvency Experts briefly details their rights. If a representative from HMRC arrives at your place of business this will be a field officer. This differs from the situation where a bailiff shows up with a distraint order notice. This is an individual who works for a bailiff company which has been hired by HMRC to represent them. Whilst HMRC field officers can and will seize property to sell at a public auction to be compensated for tax and PAYE arrears, bailiffs’ rights, on the other hand, are rather limited. Contrary to popular belief, they cannot force their way into your place of business and they most certainly cannot adopt a threatening behaviour. They can never represent themselves as being an official representative of HMRC unless they are an actual field officer. If you ask them to leave, they must. Unless they have a Court Order you can deny them entry to your premises. If a bailiff attempts to take anything from your premises without proper authorisation, they can be found guilty of harassment. According to The Administration of Justice Act, even HMRC bailiffs are governed by standards of behaviour pursuant to an implied contract between the state and citizens, inclusive of business owners and directors. Whilst it has long been recognised that HMRC will issue a distraint notice and attempt to recover unpaid taxes by any means within their power, the rights of bailiffs’ employed by HMRC rather than field officers only extend so far. If you are behind with your payments to HMRC and concerned you might encounter problems with a bailiff or field officer, contact our team at The Insolvency Experts immediately. Our insolvency specialists can help mediate an otherwise potentially difficult situation, so call our team now for confidential, honest advice on 0300 303 8284 or via our enquiries page.