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.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Debt Collection - The HMRC Way

This article has recently been posted on Accounting Web, concerning threatening letters sent out by HMRC (the organisation that - as per yesterday's article - takes at least 6 months to pay its debts).

Here is the text in full:

"A client has just brought in a letter they received this morning from HMRC saying that a Self Assessment amount was overdue. The part that I am very shocked by is the second paragraph which goes:

'I don't seem to have received your payment of tax due by 31 January. I am particularly concerned about your debt because our records show that you already have an unpaid tax debt. That is why I am treating your case as a priority, and will be asking one of our field agents to call at your house to remove your possessions and sell them at public auction in order to clear the debt.'

What concerns me most about this threatening letter is that it is dated 22nd February 2011 therefore a liability which is hypothetically only 3 weeks late. Also it is only regarding what the Revenue believes is a late payment of part of their 1st Payment on Account for 2010/11, actually the amount is not due as we had reduced their payments on account which the Revenue had still not processed.

When I phoned up to complain about the tone etc of the letter I was told that this is now the new letter that will be sent for all perceived late payments. I am worried about the effect that this will have on some of our more delicate/elderly clients as without wanting to be alarmist this could quite possibly kill some of them or at the very least make them afraid to answer the door.

Has anyone else received such threats?

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  1. Nope, I have not received such threats, but then again, I have a history of complaints against HMRC. I've contacted my MP several times which HMRC hate (good), I've approached the Adjudicator (after dealing with their nonsense complaints procedure) and finally to the Parliamentary Ombudsman including applications to the First Tier Tribunal.

    From my experience, stand firm and dont let these words intimidate you. That is all they are - words. Reply back that they have no basis for sending anyone after 3 weeks and that their tone is threatening in nature if their claim is merely 'perceived'. Complain and write to your MP. Once the complaint is rolling, the fee is in dispute although they will attempt to charge interest which you can dispute with them.

    They are bullies who abuse their power because most people dont challenge it. Try sticking it to them (lawfully) and watch them change their tune. Above all, stay strong, you are not alone in your fight and best of luck.

  2. That letter is a disgrace

  3. Fully agree with 11.20.

    Throw a grenade back in their direction threatening them by writing to your MP and watch them buckle.
    That letter is a template letter with a junior officer inserting a date and address, and a signature, thats all.
    Find out that Debt Mangement teams manager and then direct everything that way. They wont want to know so then it will go higher up the management chain.
    Dont forget the huge rise in complaints against hmrc which have been upheld as posted here recently.
    Once you plant a seed of fear in their minds they fall apart.

  4. I am amazed that to date no-one appears to have taken HMRC to court under the Health and Safety Legislation. Under the HSAW Act 1974 (as amended) Employers not only have a duty to protect the Health and Safety of their workforce but also anyone not employed by them who may be affected by their activities. Bullying tactics like these threateneing letters can seriously affect elderly and infirm tax payers as well as those of a timid nature etc.
    A potential source of business for the No Win No Fee army whr egulalry advertise on daytime TV.

  5. I had been late with my second payment on account for 2009/2010 (which was entirely my fault, and I should have contacted them but forgot). I received a flurry of letters along these lines ranging from "pay us *now*" to the "you haven't contacted us, we'll send the goons around" type you quoted above, all sent within 7-10 days of each other.

    This was right before Christmas, when we know Royal Mail delivers their letters with a speed almost unheard of, plus I moved abroad so by the time I received one letter, the next one was already on its way.

    My accountant was surprised by both the short time between the letters and the tone, plus when he talked to HMRC in order to get me some breathing room to pay, they gave me something like 2 weeks over the Christmas holidays to pay.

    I did manage to pay before their deadline and turned out I was due a part refund of the second payment on account. Oddly enough, HMRC paid back a portion of that refund, but for some reason, about £120 less that my accountant calculated. Of course neither my accountant not me have received a reconciliation statement from HMRC so far.

    Maybe we should send them a letter stating that we're giving them two weeks to produce that statement "or else"...

  6. How about:-

    Protection from Harassment Act 1997

    Chapter 40

    An Act to make provision for protecting persons from harassment and similar conduct.

  7. I don;t see how anyone can take HMRC to court for harrassment in the case stated. The tax is due and payable on 31 January, payment was late. Why wasn't it made on time? The letter doesn't state that the client called to let them know the payment would be late (irrespective of whether it would have got lost or not dealt with - they obviously didn't need to lose it as they weren't given it). You don't go into Tescos, get a pint of milk and say "I'll pay you later" on walking out. If a debt is due on 31 January,it's due wheteher or not it'd a client or HMRC itself. 2 wrongs don't make a right. So the moral is, if you owe HMRC pay up on time or stop whinging about the tone of their letters. And if you look it up on the internet, they can come round after 3 weeks and take goods away.

  8. The wording of the letter is nothing short of disgraceful.... but times are hard & HMRC is under pressure from the government pressure to collect as much money as possible., as quickly as possible...just so it can waste it on another hare brained scheme dreamt up by the muppets in Whitehall! We may now have a Con-Dem parliament but the same people remain in power in the civil service!!

  9. 4 March 2011 17:54

    Your comment: "You don't go into Tescos, get a pint of milk and say "I'll pay you later"

    Indeed - the same applies to invoices that are issued to HMRC who have apparantly failed to pay them on time. In addition, as HMRC make cock-ups, left, right and centre, who is to say that their claim of a tax that is due is correct? They have no credibility whatsoever in ALL respects.

    This will never resolve itself until the management who've caused this shambles are brought to account and proper qualified people replace them.

    Until then, HMRC will continue to reach new depths of shitdom no-one else would ever be able to reach.

  10. Indeed - the same applies to invoices that are issued to HMRC who have apparantly failed to pay them on time. In addition, as HMRC make cock-ups, left, right and centre, who is to say that their claim of a tax that is due is correct?

    And that's why I said 2 wrongs don't make a right. And as for HMRC getting the calculation wrong in this's not called SELF ASSESSMENT for nothing. We put our figures in the tax return and calculate the tax due.


  11. "it's not called SELF ASSESSMENT for nothing."

    This is why I get my tax return done ASAP after the year end. That way it gives HMRC plenty of time to explain why their calculations do not match mine.

  12. If Tax was simplified, this problem of "self-assessment" queries would reduce greatly. Throw 11 thousand pages at people and there's your problem.
    Solution = Light a Match

  13. Hmm, seeing that HMRC only employs less than a hundred 'field force' agents I'd love to see how this letter will be put in to effect.

    If you get this, ignore it - unless you owe millions of pounds it's unlikely that a representative from HMRC will actually visit.

    Like 99% of the private sector multinational corporations, the ex-com cronies would much prefer the hired goons who have no grasp of the actual law to deal with the public debt for some reason.

    Unfortunately this is what happens when you bring in a load of ex 'talent' from the private sector multinational corporations like David Varney who lost 11bn at O2 and was drafted in to HMRC and somehow still not held accountable.

  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

  15. Hmmmm. Less than 100 field force agents eh? Well I'm one of them, and I'm fairly sure there are about 400 odd others........

  16. I received a threatening letter from this incompetent agency telling me that I had missed the payment deadline and telling me that I need to pay 415.40 NOW or the debt would be passed to their debt collection. This was the first communication that I had received from these "people", having been advised by my accountant that I did not owe any further money. I am a pensioner and pay tax PAYE.
    I have just returned from a short break to this is 5.30am and I cannot wait until this harassing agency opens at 8.00am. I note other comments on this page and will be making an appointment with my MP to discuss the HMR&C and section 40 of the Administration of Justice Act. I also note the comment by the previous poster...shame on you! If you defend the action of these bullies you are colluding with their thuggery.

  17. I appreciate this thread is old...I was looking for some info regarding HMRC's pre-emptive tax of 'Paying on Account' (PoA)...but some bits made me laugh.

    Anonymous4 said on March 2011 17:54 "You don't go into Tescos, get a pint of milk and say "I'll pay you later" on walking out." Well, ask the suppliers of Tesco how they pay? I bet it's +60 days before they settle their account.

    Also, by it's nature, Tax is retrospective. Do HMRC now have a crystal ball to see peoples' earnings into the future? If I had paid in 2012 what HMRC had asked as PoA HMRC I would have been in credit by £9k (I paid £20k in 2010/11, but earnings dropped so I owed £2k for 2011/120).

    PoA is nothing but a way to get money into the Exchequer early because they are short of cash through cocking-up the per usual - and the politicians short on their expenses! The trouble is it only works in the short-term.

  18. I have recently been thinking about taking the HMRC to court, and researching case exemplars has brought me to this page.
    I DID pay my tax on time. My tax return and accounts records told them what I owed and the return was sent with a cheque which was cashed by the HMRC three days later, within the deadline.
    A further 3 days after the cheque had been cashed, I received a demand for exactly the same amount. I tried to phone them to say it had been paid, but they said I failed my telephone security questions - I explained that I had never telephoned them before and I had never given them 'answers to security questions' - so what were they judging the answers against? I was not allowed to speak to anyone. My accountant phoned on my behalf and they said they'd get back to him.
    Then, for 3 months, I received a barrage of threatening letters to the tune of the above. We sent in copies of the cashed cheque, the tax returns etc again and again, but still the letters came.
    Two weeks ago I received a letter saying that my goods will be seized, and just one day later my accountant received a telephone call from an Enforcement Officer wanting some details about my home. My accountant lost his temper with the Enforcement Officer and stayed on the phone for over two hours whilst trying to sort out the mess. This was the 16th phonecall to the HMRC he had made about the letters they were sending me.
    They agreed then that they had cashed the cheque and I had paid on time. Two days later I received a letter saying they were 'reviewing my case in the complaints division' - there was no zero balance, no apology. I haven't heard anything since.
    If I was a different type of person, this would put me off self-employment. I can understand how it can affect people's mental health and add a huge level of stress. They have hounded and harassed me for nothing - goodness knows how much time and money they have wasted - theirs, mine and my accountant's.
    Seemingly, the mess is all about the fact that someone decided to give me a middle name on their computer system, and so the records weren't tallying, and hence why I failed the security questions. No-one in the HMRC was willing to just 'deal with it' - they were always just 'looking into it' and it was getting to the stage where my goods were due to be seized because no-one could be bothered.
    I feel really angry about the whole situation. It's my first year in self-employment and I can confidently say I did everything right. This is probably happening to lots of other people and it's not on.