Reposted from the Daily Mail
I’m taking this article with a pinch of salt. Why? because HMRC have always used this method informally in the past. I honestly believe that this government are preparing HMRC for privatisation and this scaremongering article is part of their cunning plan…seriously. The government want people to think HMRC are so out of control that when it’s suggested that Capita, SERCO, G4S (delete as applicable) take it over it’ll be accepted without a whimper. This lot of chinless wonders currently in the Houses of Parliament regularly hoist the flag up the flagpole to see who salutes it! Be on your guard, because it’s your personal information they desire so that tory ministers and their buddies in private companies grow even richer.
Innocent taxpayers are being sent ‘bully-boy’ letters by HM Revenue & Customs demanding to know why they are paying less than it expects them to.
In a new attack on suspected tax avoiders, officers are targeting individuals whose payments don’t match up to official expectations.
The alarming letter sent to homes tells them the taxman has been scrutinising their self-assessment form – and that their bill is ‘lower than the average for people with a similar amount of income to you’.
Demands: In a new attack on suspected tax avoiders HM Revenue & Customs officers are sending ‘bully-boy’ letters to innocent individuals whose payments don’t match up to official expectations
It then suggests they check their form again before warning of possible additional tax to pay and penalties.
However, experts warn innocent workers and pensioners are being unfairly accused. Donations to charity, big one-off pension payments or an investment can all legally lower a tax bill – and are not evidence of tax dodging.
HMRC’s heavy-handed approach to those who may owe relatively small sums is in stark contrast to its kid-glove handling of multinational companies such as Google and Starbucks which are accused of paying too little corporation tax in the UK.
- HMRC controversially hiring third party debt collectors to recover £1.6billion from overpayment of tax credits
Elaine Clark of accountant Cheapaccounting said: ‘This is an outrageous bully-boy tactic by HMRC. They should stop picking on hard-working people and leave them alone. It’s wrong and could scare the life out of innocent individuals.
‘If they have any kind of case against someone, then they should open an investigation instead of this ridiculous exercise.’
The letters are being sent to 1,000 higher-rate taxpayers as part of a trial. If deemed successful, letters could go to thousands more all over the country.
Nearly 11million people file self-assessment forms each year. Among those so far to receive such letters are an elderly widow in her 80s who gave large sums to charity, and a landlord who properly declared the sale of a buy-to-let property.
In the 12 months to the end of March, HMRC raised £1billion more than the target set by George Osborne (pictured) during last year’s Autumn Statement
Paul Aplin at chartered tax adviser A C Mole & Sons said: ‘There are many genuine reasons for people to pay a lower tax bill compared to others on the same income.
‘You may have a higher-rate earner on £80,000 where a large charity donation and pension payment means they end up as a basic-rate tax payer on their self-assessment form.
‘I would hope that HMRC look at the details already on the tax return to see if they explain the low average rate before asking the taxpayer, but the wording of these letters suggests they may not be doing so.’
It is the latest invasive approach by HMRC to probe taxpayers’ affairs.
It follows the Daily Mail’s revelations that the taxman wants the power to dip into married couples’ joint bank accounts and even cash Isas to chase debts.
The move has been widely criticised by MPs who fear HMRC, which has a long track record of incompetence, will go after the wrong people for the wrong amounts.
However, official figures show HMRC’s aggressive tax collecting is bearing fruit. Last week, the Government said its crackdown had raised a record £23.9billion in additional tax during the 12 months to the end of March.
This is almost £1billion more than a target set by Chancellor George Osborne in last year’s Autumn Statement. HMRC is trying to close a £35billion ‘tax gap’ – the difference between the amount due and that collected.
Over the past 18 months, it has gone after dozens of self-employed professions from hair dressers to taxi drivers and market stall owners to solicitors and Avon ladies.
Andy Silvester of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: ‘The easiest way to ensure that everybody is paying their fair share is to simplify the tax system.’
HMRC says its letters are an experiment to try to change taxpayers’ behaviour. However, if successful, it will roll it out to all types of household.
A spokesman said: ‘We’re committed to making it easy for our customers to get their tax right.’
‘We are issuing 1,000 letters to taxpayers with an income of £150,000 or more who have an effective rate of tax of only 22 per cent or less, asking them to check their tax returns.’
If a taxpayer is content that their return is accurate then they do not need to do anything.
‘This is part of a trial to help individuals identify any mistakes they may have made on their Self Assessment return. Anyone who needs help is welcome to get in touch with us.’