An HMRC Enforcement Officer will carry an identity card on their Field Force Visit that proves that they are indeed an approved HMRC Enforcement Officer. They may work for a private company that has been contracted by HMRC, but they must have an HMRC Enforcement Officer ID. If they are licensed HMRC Enforcement Officers, then they have the right to force entry into premises which are solely commercial, but only if they have been authorised by a Justice of the Peace.
If the premises are part or fully residential, their entry rights are limited to the normal routes, and access may also be limited depending on the type of debt they are collecting and whether children are resident in the property.
It is important to note that if you do not satisfy the debt in the seven days following the signing of the Control of Goods Agreement, HMRC Enforcement Officers have the right to enter the business premises in order to remove the goods included in the agreement. Access cannot be denied. If you refuse access, they can call the police for support in carrying out their duties.
If you have any questions about the rights of HMRC Enforcement Officers and your rights as a business owner, simply get in touch via telephone, email or online live chat. We have years of experience in dealing with HMRC Field Force Visits, so we can give you the advice you need, when you need it.
Normally, a creditor would need a court order in order to seize control of a debtor’s property in order to satisfy a debt. However, HMRC have unique powers which allow them to arrive at business premises unannounced, without a court order, in order to start the process of seizing business assets to repay debts.
However, Enforcement Officers cannot simply turn up to your property unannounced and begin removing property immediately. They must follow the process of allowing you a seven day period to pay the debt, after the Enforcement Notice is sent, before they can make a Control of Goods Agreement. Then, if you sign the agreement, they must allow a further seven day period to pay the debt before they can actually remove any goods.
HMRC Enforcement Officers have the authority to seize goods to the value of the debt, as well as the cost of the enforcement. Goods sold at public auction do not always reach the value that you would hope. So whilst it may appear that Enforcement Officers are taking an excessive number of assets from your business, it is so that they can cover a potential shortfall in the price achieved at auction, and also recover the fees associated with the enforcement process.
Only goods that are the property of the business can be taken by HMRC Enforcement Officers. Items that belong to a third party, or items that are subject to hire purchase or lease agreements (usually vehicles), cannot be taken.