HomeFWJ takeawayTakeawayCompany rescueBusiness recovery and rescueCan HMRC freeze bank accounts?

HMRC can freeze bank accounts – but it is quite unusual. Often what happens is that they issue a winding up petition and the bank then freezes the account. Our team can help unfreeze the account and keep you trading. But quick action is needed to stop significant harm to the company. Call us today.

In response to the question can HMRC freeze bank accounts, the answer is that it can. However, it is probably a misconception that HMRC regularly freeze bank accounts although there is very much a justifiable reason why people think that they do.

Winding up petition bank account freeze

HMRC quite regularly issues winding up petitions or winding up orders when a company fails to pay its taxes. This can relate to winding up petitions or winding up orders for VAT, PAYE or NIC. Once the winding up petition has been issued, it then gets served on the company itself. However, quite quickly the existence of the winding up petition will become known to third parties and as soon as the company’s bank is aware, it will place a freeze on the company bank account.

The reason why the bank freezes the account is that once the bank is on notice of a winding up petition, there is a danger the bank could be liable for any payments that are made out of the bank account to third parties, suppliers or any other creditors. The bank is therefore keen to avoid any exposure and as such, will put in place a bank account freeze unless it receives a court order permitting payments to be made. Therefore, the HMRC winding up petition will inadvertently lead to a bank account freeze although this might not have been the original intention of HMRC.

the way to solve this problem is through a validation order application to court. It allows certain payments to be made without threat of further sanction. And this can be combined with an application to have the winding up order reversed.

Freezing order and freezing injunctions

It is of course possible for HMRC to actively seek a bank account to be frozen and will do so by way of a more rarely used route of a freezing injunction or freezing order. These are specific court applications made to prevent dissipation or removal of assets beyond the reach of HMRC in circumstances where there is a real risk of this happening and more commonly, there is a suspicion of dishonesty or fraudulent activity by the company concerned. Whilst these are more unusual remedies, they are part of the armoury of HMRC and they will use them as appropriate.


Whatever your circumstances, we can help you. We are experts in dealing with HMRC, either with winding up petitions or freezing orders. The team at FWJ is the leading expert in these areas and we are happy to help with whatever your enquiry is. Contact one of our experts now.

Case studies

View all case studies

Contact us in confidence