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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