HMRC debt recovery ‘regressive and draconian’

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Cameron’s Big Government in Action

Proposals from HMRC to take money direct from taxpayers’ bank accounts – without going through the courts – have been branded ‘regressive and draconian’ by the Law Society.

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Law Society tax law committee chair Gary Richards said: “We agree that tax that is due must be paid, but HMRC’s existing powers – if properly used – are sufficient.

 

“There are already streamlined procedures for recovery of tax due in UK courts. We are concerned that the direct recovery of debt from bank accounts without judicial supervision may not comply with data protection or human rights legislation. It would effectively reintroduce Crown preference – a measure swept away with good reason in 2002.”

 

The Law Society’s objections include:

 

· HMRC officers would in effect be acting as claimant and judge at the same time.

· The measures would put the state in a preferential position to other creditors. All other creditors would have to pursue their cases through the courts.

· The use of power without judicial supervision will lead to hardship where, as inevitably will happen, HMRC make mistakes.

· HMRC is proposing that a taxpayer is given only 14 days to respond after the monies in his bank account are frozen before the monies are taken. This very short deadline might easily and accidentally be missed by a taxpayer and 30 days would be fairer, and the same period in which HMRC are meant to respond to enquiries.

 

A full copy of the Law Society’s consultation response is available here: http://www.lawsociety.org.uk/representation/policy-discussion/documents/Direct-recovery-of-debts/

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