HMRC Is Shite

HMRC Is Shite
Dedicated to the taxpayers of Britain, and the employees of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC), who have to endure the monumental shambles that is HMRC.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Debt Collection Issues

My thanks to a loyal reader who recently wrote to me about the problems she has encountered when dealing with HMRC's debt collection department.

"I've seen your blog and wonder if anyone else has had the problem of allegedly unreceived VAT 7 forms?

My husband's earnings dropped well below the VAT threshold for several years and last March or April he completed the VAT 7 and sent it off. He heard nothing and of course, you've guessed the rest, since then, he's had escalating demands of speculative VAT they've decided he owes.

There have been numerous calls from us, from our accountant and each time we get a different story but they always say they can't trace having received the VAT7.

We complained to the Debt management unit at Shipley and he also sent a letter to them confirming his turnover at way below the limit and they date from which he wished to de-register.

He also got his accountant to send in yet another VAT7, with a covering letter in December.

In February, the complaint was responded to but on the basis that the recorded delivery VAT7 could not be traced and although the fake debt pursuance had been put on hold, the threatening letters would still come out if the VAT 7 was not received.

During one of the phone calls, someone at the Debt Recovery unit told me it didn't make any difference if you sent things recorded delivery, they could still maintain all they'd received was something, and not necessarily the document in question.

Where we are now is that since we had the complaint response on Thursday saying the matter was in abeyance, we got a letter on Friday from the debt unit in Benton saying they're going to instruct solicitors to collect this bogus debt.

I've sent a response by recorded delivery, both to the complaints manager and to whoever the anonymous person was in Benton saying that if we hear anything from a debt recovery agency, we'll institute a counter claim and will treat it as harassment.

Basically, even if this shower of shit can't find the various VAT7 forms, they do have my husband's letter in which he gives them all the relevant information. This formed part of his complaint but those people didn't pass it on to the de-registration unit on the basis, I was told that it's not their job. I took the precaution of sending it by recorded delivery and am doing so with all future correspondence.

I mean, this is it in a nutshell and the bottom line is that my husband has only tried to de-register and has had a barrel full of abuse and harassment. He's 69, has heart failure and diabetes. They know all this. I've sent a letter to my MP today but doubtless it will go on the pile and nothing will come of it. I've got the correspondence and am waiting for the accountant to let me have the audit trail of the what/when that he's done over the past year.

When are we going to get some sort of organisation together that fights back?

Individuals are powerless and it's about time we got some publicity for successful prosecutions against HMRC. My husband's case isn't about an error of coding - this is about incompetence and the fact that he owes them nothing but they still hound him relentlessly. It's positively Kafka-esque.

Tax does have to be taxing.

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  1. Interesting note about recorded delivery: Even to businesses there is anecdotal evidence that a large amount of recorded deliveries don't make it to their destination or are not tracked and signed for correctly.

    Having had a role where I was sending six or so a week this used to annoy me considerably.

  2. Maybe it is time to bring in your your local MP and the press.

    I am also a great believer in that if someone is trying to extort money from you that you do not owe then the police should be called in as well.

  3. Time to start turning up at HMRC reception desks around the country and getting people to sign receipts for forms.

  4. As an AA with Customs and Excise I used to get these all the time and forwarded them to the team that de-registered. It worked like clockwork.
    Then it was HMRC and all of a sudden it was, they go here or they go there. They kept changing the destination of these, or they started over-complicating and got involved in the post room procedures and I bet that vat 7 has simply got lost.
    They couldnt leave the previous system alone and then bobs your uncle the complaints went through the roof.
    I feel sorry for that particular case,
    but if you complained you were asked to step into an interview room for a quick word and told to get on with it and this is the way things were to be done.
    Its incredible that a simple request to de-register has come to this, but thats HMRC Management.

  5. I've contacted my MP three times over the last four years which I suspect annoys them. HMRC's complaint department is a cross-protective and worthless exercise. Objectionable, miserable and bullying bastards feeding off taxpayer money. Bin them - anything else would be an improvement.

  6. "I've contacted my MP three times over the last four years which I suspect annoys them."

    I can confirm that MP's contacting HMRC is very annoying for HMRC.

  7. @ 12:49

    I also confirm that. You even get disciplined for suggesting that course of action to a disgruntled caller. "you should have told them to comply with our complaints procedure" Yeah well thats shit too.

  8. I agree. As an HMRC debt collector, this sort of thing is on the rise. MP complaint. It's the only thing our miserable, arse covering bosses take ANY notice of. Also claim compensation, that annoys them too.

  9. Some good points here. If MP Complaints annoy the hell out of HMRC, its all good. Question is whether it resolves anything and whether First Tier Tribunal is the only way to get any justice?

    Ultimately, the more people who take action via MPs, Adjudicator, Ombudsman and Tribunals - I think, the better. Sooner or later, HMRC will truly fall apart if not almost there already. (fingers crossed)

  10. Not saying MP complaints are a panacea for all ills, but things start to happen at 100x normal speed once the letter on Commons notepaper arrives.......

  11. "Time to start turning up at HMRC reception desks around the country and getting people to sign receipts for forms."

    Good luck. They are all either closed or part time now. Once the cuts really hit there won't be anywhere to go and see someone.

  12. Debt Collection Agencies (DCA`s) are the future of debt collection for low value HMRC debts.

    If you think this is bad, they are now referring Tax Credit debts to the DCA`s.

  13. 25 February 2011 07:43

    They have shut our local office that the public could use but they still have a reception desk in the entrance to a large office complex near by. Maybe the guys there will just get a lot more visitors than than they are expecting.

  14. 25 February 2011 09:07

    They will be going eventually as well. Latest plan is to have mobile "receptions". As in 2 people turn up in a shopping centre, supermarket or library for a day per week to answer questions. I can't see them being able to take deliveries of letters, Returns or forms because they would need to pay for a van to take them all.

  15. 25 February 2011 09:23

    That is probably the funniest thing I have ever heard of and should prove extremely interesting. I take it these people will be trained in escape and evasion tactics or have armed guards with them.

    I think as usual the posts made @07:43 and @08:07 highlight the attitude of HMRC towards the tax payers.

  16. Customers,please. Now take youself off to a Pacesetter re-education facility.


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