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Businesses reschedule £2.5 billion in tax payments

The amount of tax which small firms have asked to delay paying under the government’s Business Payment Support Service has risen to £2.5 billion.

According to figures from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), some 141,000 agreements have been reached with small businesses on the rescheduling of their tax payments in the last six months.

The Business Payment Support Service (BPSS) was set up by the Chancellor, Alistair Darling in the pre-Budget Report as a way of helping cash-starved businesses cope with the recession.

The number of firms that have applied to HMRC for breathing space on the payment of their tax liabilities is an indication of how many businesses are still struggling with cash flow.

However, some observers are concerned that the time when the backdated taxes finally have to be paid later in the year could herald a new surge in business failures as firms are faced with tax bills they still cannot meet.

In the April Budget, the BPSS scheme was further extended so that businesses can factor in anticipated losses as they reschedule their tax payments rather than wait until the end of their accounting periods.