Corporation tax and VAT are the biggest tax headaches for SMEs with more than 550,000 struggling to pay tax bills
Around 10% of SMEs are struggling to pay tax bills with the average value of unpaid tax totalling more than £45,600, while 10% had problems with bills of more than £100,000.
With tax problems set to get worse, around 19% of the 5.5m SMEs said that affording tax bills had become more difficult as the cost of living crisis continued to bite.
Corporation tax was the primary concern with more than half (54%) of those running behind with tax payments experiencing problems with bills, while a third (35%) were late with VAT, found research by financing provider Premium Credit.
More than a quarter (26%) also expected to struggle to pay one or more tax bills in the next five years as a result of ongoing economic disruption.
Jennie Hill, chief commercial officer at Premium Credit, said: ‘SME finances are inevitably under pressure from the cost of living crisis and that has an impact on their ability to meet tax obligations but paying tax bills is a long-standing issue for companies and is certain to remain so.
‘Failing to pay bills on time will lead to fines from HMRC so any company which is struggling should consider spreading the cost for up to a year which for a small fee will help them to pay bills on time and improve cashflow when it is needed.’
Premium Credit saw a 68% rise last year in the amount it lent to fund VAT and a 53% increase in the amount of support for non-VAT related tax bills.
Around 29% of SMEs were considering setting up a time to pay agreement with HMRC, while 21% were considering borrowing money from family or friends.
Premium Credit surveyed 1,073 SME owners and managers in May 2023.