Does Bankruptcy Clear Tax Debt In The UK?

If you wish to understand the financial challenges of bankruptcy and tax debt in the UK so that you can make informed decisions and navigate through the legal landscape, you will find help in the following article. This comprehensive guide aims to provide a clear and concise overview of bankruptcy and tax debt in the UK, including the different types of bankruptcy, eligibility criteria and advice on how to avoid bankruptcy and manage your tax debt.

Does Bankruptcy Clear Tax Debt In The UK?

Yes, bankruptcy can clear certain tax debts in the UK. While bankruptcy can provide relief from many types of debts, it is important to note that not all tax debts can be cleared through the bankruptcy process. Here are some types of tax debts that are not usually cleared in bankruptcy:

  • Income Tax
  • VAT
  • Council Tax
  • Business Rates

Payments of income tax, national insurance contributions and value-added tax (VAT) are cleared when a person becomes bankrupt. Such taxes are usually included in the bankruptcy statement and can be given up at the end of the financial recovery process which provides relief to individuals.

If you have outstanding self-assessment tax debt, it typically cannot be discharged through bankruptcy. Similarly, any outstanding PAYE tax debt of an employer cannot be discharged through bankruptcy as well.

Council tax liabilities are considered a priority debt and are not cleared through bankruptcy proceedings. If someone declares bankruptcy, their council tax bill is still outstanding and they are still liable to pay it. 

Similarly, if an individual becomes bankrupt, business rates are not cleared as they are considered priority expenses and are generally not included in the bankruptcy process Even if an individual claims bankruptcy, they are still liable for their business expenses. 

Local authorities responsible for collecting administrative expenses may continue to attempt to collect unpaid debts regardless of insolvency. It is important to note that bankruptcy provides individuals with relief from other types of debt, but bankruptcy issues generally do not affect business value It is advisable to consult a licensed bankruptcy or financial professional consult a qualified advisor to understand the specific implications of the decline in operating value.

Financial stability does, however, provide individuals with some flexibility and options to manage their council debts. Bankruptcy can give individuals a break and can allow individuals to negotiate alternative debt repayment arrangements such as Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs) or Debt Relief Orders (DROs). 

In addition to this, if you have incurred tax penalties or fines due to non-compliance or late payment, these debts are generally not dischargeable in bankruptcy as HMRC reserves the right to challenge the payment of these debts. 

What Happens To My Tax Debt If I Declare Bankruptcy?

Declaring bankruptcy can provide individuals and businesses with relief from overwhelming debts, but it’s important to understand how tax debt is treated in the bankruptcy process in the UK. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Not all tax debts can be discharged through bankruptcy. As mentioned in the previous section, VAT debt, self-assessment tax debt, PAYE tax debt, penalties, fines, and fraudulent tax debts are typically not cleared by bankruptcy. These debts will still need to be repaid even after declaring bankruptcy.
  • In bankruptcy proceedings, tax debt is considered a priority debt. This means that it is given a higher priority compared to other types of debts. Priority debts are usually paid off before other debts, such as unsecured loans or credit card debts. However, it’s important to note that priority tax debts may not be fully discharged through bankruptcy.
  • If your tax debt is eligible for discharge through bankruptcy, it may still be included in a repayment plan. In bankruptcy, an individual or business may be required to make regular payments towards their debts for a specific period of time, typically three to five years. During this time, the bankruptcy court will determine the amount that needs to be repaid to creditors, including any eligible tax debts.

In such a case, you may need to consider consulting with a tax professional or financial advisor who specialises in tax debt management. They can provide expert guidance and represent your interests during negotiations with HMRC and can help you explore alternative solutions, such as negotiating a settlement or filing for a repayment plan, which consolidates your debts into one affordable monthly payment.

If you are looking for an online consultation for your tax debt, you will find TaxAid to be of great help.

What Are The Steps To Avoid Bankruptcy And Manage Tax Debt Effectively?

While bankruptcy can be a solution for individuals and businesses facing overwhelming tax debt, it should always be considered a last resort. Before taking such a drastic step, there are several steps you can take to avoid bankruptcy and effectively manage your tax debt. Here are some crucial steps to consider:

  • You should start by thoroughly evaluating your financial situation, including your income, expenses, assets, and liabilities. This will give you a clear understanding of your financial health and help you identify any areas where you can cut costs or increase income to manage your tax debt better.
  • Additionally, it is crucial to establish open and transparent communication with HMRC regarding your tax debt. Ignoring their correspondence or failing to file your tax returns on time will only worsen the situation. Reach out to them to discuss your financial difficulties and explore possible options for repayment or debt relief.
  • HMRC offers various repayment options to individuals and businesses struggling with tax debt. These options may include instalment plans, where you can make regular payments over an extended period of time, or a Time to Pay arrangement, which allows you to negotiate a temporary suspension of your tax payments. Investigate these options and choose the one that best suits your financial capabilities.
  • You will need to make your tax debt a priority in your overall financial management strategy and allocate a portion of your income specifically towards repaying your tax debt, ensuring that it remains a priority compared to other debt obligations. By making consistent payments, you can gradually reduce your tax debt and improve your financial standing.
  • It is recommended to develop a comprehensive budget that accounts for your income, expenses, and debt payments. This will help you track your spending, identify areas where you can cut costs, and allocate more funds towards your tax debt repayment. You will need to stick to the budget religiously to ensure you are making progress in managing your tax debt effectively.


Navigating bankruptcy and tax debt can be a daunting task, but arming yourself with knowledge is the first step towards regaining financial stability. By following this, you will thoroughly understand the UK bankruptcy process, tax debt management, and the importance of seeking professional advice. 


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