Honest Burgers Ltd – HMRC Winding-up Petition

Fast-food giant Honest Burgers Ltd recently faced a HMRC winding-up petition after the tax authority rejected the extension of repayment terms for a substantial tax bill. This unexpected turn of events led to a winding-up petition being issued against the popular restaurant chain, putting it at risk of compulsory liquidation. In this article, we delve into the legal intricacies of the situation, shed light on HMRC’s evolving approach to Time to Pay (TTP) agreements, and provide insights into proactive financial strategies for businesses facing similar challenges.

If your business owes money to HMRC (His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs) that it can’t pay immediately you will probably wish to pay overdue taxes by instalments. Our legal team can use their experience and secure your business a favourable Time to Pay agreement from HMRC, which is a key step in preserving financial stability and warding off HMRC Debt Management threats of insolvency (such as a HMRC Statutory Demand, Bankruptcy or a HMRC Winding-up Petition). Our leading tax experts with years of experience of handling HMRC officers can be instructed to deal with HMRC on your behalf, ensuring a smooth and confident process.

Facing a HMRC Winding-up petition

Honest Burgers, boasting 40 outlets and approximately 700 employees, found itself grappling with HMRC’s abrupt issuance of a winding-up petition. Despite ongoing negotiations for a TTP agreement renewal, the tax authority accelerated legal proceedings, catching the business off guard. Prompt action was taken by Honest Burgers, which paid the outstanding tax in full within two days, highlighting the need for businesses to be vigilant in the face of evolving legal landscapes.

Why HMRC issue Winding-up Petitions

HMRC, in response to criticisms from Honest Burgers, emphasised its commitment to protecting taxpayers’ money. The tax authority acknowledged an increased focus on clamping down on TTP deals, especially in cases where debts originated during the pandemic. As officials work through a backlog of unpaid bills, it is crucial for businesses to understand the shifting dynamics and potential risks associated with negotiations with HMRC.

HMRC Time to Pay (TTP) Arrangements

In the face of mounting financial pressures, TTP arrangements have been a lifeline for businesses seeking to manage and repay tax debts over a specified period. Navigating the intricacies of TTP agreements is essential for businesses aiming to secure favourable terms and avoid the pitfalls of winding-up petitions.

Basics of Time to Pay (TTP) Agreements

TTP arrangements provide businesses with a structured framework to repay HMRC over an agreed-upon period, typically up to 12 months. This flexibility can be invaluable for businesses facing temporary financial hardships, allowing them to maintain operations while meeting their tax obligations.

Negotiating TTP Arrangements with HMRC

Negotiating TTP arrangements with HMRC requires a strategic and well-informed approach. As a business owner, understanding the dynamics of these negotiations is crucial for securing favourable terms and avoiding the potential escalation to winding-up petitions.

HMRC’s Perspective on TTP Arrangements

HMRC, as the creditor, holds a pivotal role in determining the feasibility of TTP arrangements. It is essential to grasp HMRC’s perspective, including its criteria for accepting or rejecting proposed repayment plans. Engaging with HMRC transparently and proactively can significantly impact the success of these negotiations.

Experienced Insolvency Solicitors

Navigating the legal intricacies of TTP arrangements and potential winding-up petitions requires a deep understanding of tax law and negotiation strategies. An experienced solicitor can assess your business’s unique circumstances, formulate a robust negotiation strategy, and advocate on your behalf to achieve the best possible outcome.

Legal experts bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to TTP negotiations, ensuring that your proposed repayment plan aligns with legal requirements and stands the best chance of acceptance by HMRC. From crafting persuasive arguments to anticipating potential challenges, solicitors play a pivotal role in safeguarding your business interests.

HMRC’s Increasing Vigilance:

The Sunday Times reports HMRC’s intensified scrutiny on TTP deals, particularly those stemming from pandemic-related debts. As officials work through a backlog of unpaid bills, businesses should be cognisant of the changing dynamics and potential risks associated with engaging in negotiations with HMRC.

Surge in Winding-Up Petitions:

A notable trend has emerged with HMRC’s increased issuance of winding-up petitions, as highlighted by Honest Burgers’ experience. The surprising acceleration of legal proceedings during ongoing negotiations raises concerns about the potential impact on businesses, emphasising the need for a nuanced understanding of the legal landscape.

Expert Opinions on HMRC’s Approach:

Insolvency experts’ express bewilderment at HMRC’s aggressive stance, questioning the logic behind potentially jeopardising jobs during negotiations. As the tax authority seemingly intensifies its efforts, businesses facing similar challenges are advised to seek the counsel of experienced solicitors to navigate the complexities of negotiations and protect their interests.

Strategic Financial Planning:

In light of these developments, businesses should consider proactive financial strategies to pre-emptively address tax challenges. Offering a detailed written repayment plan, along with supporting documents such as cashflow forecasts, enhances the chances of negotiating favourable terms with HMRC. Transparent communication about financial constraints and realistic monthly payments is crucial for securing viable agreements.

Evolving Legal Landscape:

The timing of HMRC’s intensified enforcement drive poses challenges for the restaurant and hospitality sector, compounded by a 40% drop in Christmas bookings and ongoing industry struggles. As businesses navigate the economic fallout from the pandemic, Brexit staffing challenges, and the cost-of-living crisis, proactive financial strategies, legal expertise, and transparent communication with tax authorities become paramount.

Contact Our Tax Solicitors & Barristers

In conclusion, navigating HMRC’s winding-up petitions and TTP arrangements requires a multifaceted approach that combines legal expertise, proactive financial planning, and a deep understanding of the evolving legal landscape. As a business owner, being proactive in seeking legal counsel, understanding the intricacies of TTP negotiations, and implementing robust financial strategies can empower you to overcome challenges and secure the future success of your enterprise.

In the face of increasing legal complexities, enlisting the support of a reputable law firm specialising in tax law and insolvency is not just a strategic move but a crucial step in safeguarding your business’s interests. By staying informed, being proactive, and leveraging the expertise of legal professionals, you can navigate the challenges posed by winding-up petitions and TTP arrangements with confidence and resilience.

We provide a no cost initial discussion by phone call (02071830529) to establish whether or not we can help you by organising a discounted fixed fee advice conference for you with and ex-HMRC barrister and our experienced solicitors. We are a specialist City of London law firm made up of Solicitors & Barristers and based in the Middle Temple Inn of Court adjacent to the Royal Courts of Justice.  We are experts in dealing with matters surrounding insolvency in particular issues. Our team have unparalleled experience at serving statutory demands, negotiating with debtors/creditors, setting aside statutory demands and both issuing and defending winding up petitions vigorously at the Royal Courts of Justice (Rolls Building), or the relevant High Court District Registry or County Court with jurisdiction under the Insolvency Rules


Our lawyers have a track record of successfully challenging HMRC decisions and will assist you to get an optimal result. We analyse the merits at the very outset in an initial video conference together with leading (ex-HMRC and Big 4) tax litigation counsel. We provide urgent advice and representation to clients from our unique expert team of established Tax specialist solicitors and barristers with a proven track record of delivering results. Call us on +442071830529, or email [email protected].

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