Accountants and financial advisers are becoming increasingly concerned about their clients’ ability to pay important tax bills, new research1 from Premium Credit, a leading provider of finance for companies and business owners tax bills, shows.
Almost all (98%) of the accountants and financial advisers supporting clients with tax say the numbers struggling to pay bills has increased in the past 12 months with more than two out of five (43%) reporting a dramatic increase.
Corporation Tax bills are the biggest worry – 71% of accountants and advisers say they are seeing the biggest increase in clients struggling to pay it compared with 53% who report rising numbers struggling to pay income tax and 37% seeing rises in clients struggling with VAT bills.
The economy and its impact on companies is the main reason for tax payment issues – 55% of those questioned said it was among their top three reasons for clients struggling with tax. Around 53% cited personal reasons such as divorce and 47% highlighted the cost-of-living crisis among the top three.
On average accountants and advisers currently estimate 11% of clients struggle to pay tax bills with more than a fifth (22%) estimating 15% or more of clients have problems paying tax. The study found accountants and advisers expect the issue to worsen. In 12 months’ time they expect the average number to rise to 14% with nearly half (47%) estimating 15% or more of clients will have tax payment problems.
The average bill clients are struggling to pay is estimated at around £100,000 although one in ten say clients have problems paying tax bills of £200,000 or more.
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Premium Credit’s Tax and VAT funding proposition, which allows companies and business owners to spread the cost of their VAT, corporation tax and self-assessment tax payments for up to a year, saw a 68% rise last year in the amount it lent to fund VAT bills and a 53% increase in the amount lent for non-VAT bills. Its research shows 89% of accountants and financial advisers believe clients would consider using a service enabling them to spread tax bill payments even if they don’t currently struggle to pay bills.
Penalties and fines for missing tax deadlines range from £100 for being a day late with a Corporation Tax payment to as much as 15% of the amount of VAT not paid on time. Fines for paying VAT late only start after payment is 15 days overdue.
Commenting on this, Premium Credit chief commercial officer, Jennie Hill, said: “Accountants and financial advisers are good judges of the health or otherwise of small businesses and they are reporting increasing distress from firms on their ability to pay their tax bills.
“With firms struggling to pay average bills of £100,000 there is a real need for solutions that can help companies to meet their obligations and continue to operate effectively.”