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July 6, 2007

HMRC Wants Access to Bank Accounts

by Gill Montia

Story link: HMRC Wants Access to Bank Accounts

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is considering plans to recover monies owed from the bank accounts of people who have not paid their taxes.

Currently, HMRC brings approximately 200,000 court cases against payment defaulters each year but the process is both costly and bureaucratic.

The new proposals could allow it to take immediate action against long-term debtors but would only be used as a last resort; that is to say once all the normal avenues for appeal have been exhausted, and payment has not been made despite repeated requests.

However, this could be seen as HMRC acting as judge, jury and executioner and it is not certain what right of appeal a taxpayer would have and how money removed from a bank account in error could be recovered.

Publication of the proposals, which are at the consultation stage, has followed shortly after HMRC’s statement that it will take high-profile tax evaders to court as part of its clampdown on people who have been hiding money in offshore bank accounts.

Approximately 60,000 people have responded to the recent amnesty, which allowed those evading tax through offshore accounts to pay up, with a modest penalty of 10%.

However a further 40,000 people are under suspicion of being significant tax evaders and the Revenue has pledged to pursue these individuals vigorously.

 

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