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.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Debt Collection - The HMRC Way

The Mail highlights another example of HMRC debt collection gone "rogue".

This time HMRC debt collectors wrote a letter that threatened to visit the home of a 95-year-old widow, and confiscate her possessions.


"We are arranging a visit to your house.

We will view your possessions and list those that we will sell at auction.

We strongly advise you to avoid this as it will cost you much more to pay this way and can be embarrassing.

HMRC alleged that tax of £3,946.27 was owed. It transpired that in fact HMRC owed her £380 in overpaid tax.

An HMRC spokesman is quoted by the Mail:

"We apologise to Mrs Frew for the distress caused. The letter was issued in error and we are urgently looking into how this happened.

We will be contacting Mrs Frew to apologise and put her mind at rest.

Tax does have to be taxing.

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  1. Bless 'em.
    They are merely emulating the current 'Gaddafi' form of terror: 'WE ARE COMING TO YOUR TOWN AND WE WILL SEARCH YOU OUT ROOM BY ROOM AND WE WILL SHOW NO MERCY'
    Can't we find the odd inactive Typhoon or Tornado aircraft to drop a precision bomb on these bullies??
    Of course, HMRC's get out clause is that it is a computer that has sent it 'in error'....yes, you eejits, but it is a HUMAN BEING who reads it!!

  2. Disgraceful, everyone within HMRC should hang their heads in shame on this one.

  3. HMRC terrorists terrorising taxpayers for undue tax. Tossers!

  4. A bunch of scumbags.

  5. Cant blame it on computer error, computers are programmed by humans. Shite in = Shite out

  6. "Cant blame it on computer error, computers are programmed by humans. Shite in = Shite out"

    This is not always true, HMRC computers have the ability to convert correct information into shite information.

  7. Well, if you:

    a) under-resource debt management so that there aren't enough experienced staff left to do the job properly,

    b) subject those remaining staff to management-consultant quackery such as "Pace-not-really-Lean-oh-dearie-me-no-setter" to prevent them from doing the job properly, and

    c) hive off debt collecting to the oh-so-efficient and effective and not-profiteering-at-all private sector,

    then what the hell can you expect?

    Don't throw abuse at front-line staff when they have no say over how their job is done any more.

  8. Oh look, once again it is everyone else's fault.

  9. I have to agree with 16:40, it is not the front line staff who cause these problems. Please remember that this is just another "HMRC" cock up and not down to them. They are only to blame when they knowingly lie to the general public about systems working to design when they know they are not.

  10. As a loyal reader I have read with dismay how HMRC is apparently levying distress (legal parlance for debt collecting) without any apparent concerns surrounding the legality of what they are seeking to do.

    Surely to be levying distress on a debt that
    a) Has not been established correctly, or;
    b) Has not been correctly demanded is an illegal act under the Law of Distraint i.e. you cannot collect that which has not been correctly established and/or legally notified.
    Those who have referred to private debt collection are opening the Pandorra's Box awaiting the over-taxed populace.

    While on my soapbox I would draw your attention to the latest bit of crapola emanating from a Pacesetter/Focus Group/Buzz Board/Angels & Dragons/3 C's couldn't find it in a Xmas Cracker ideas generator - The set your out of office assistant message to show, wait for it, yes, at the end of the day when you finish work you must be sure to leave a message saying, steady, wait for it, Sorry, I am out of the office and then, amongst all the other crapola you have to deal with first thing turn it back off when you return to work in the morning or after the weekend! WTF?! Who on earth dreampt up that crazy missive? The same people who dragged HMRC down to 103 out of 103thats who!

    So, with the tax gap increasing what would you do?
    Cut staff that's what.

    And your readers think that things are bad now?

  11. It's OK, if and when HMRC staff start appearing in shopping centers they will find out what it is like to be harassed and bullied.

    That's of course if they have the guts to do it.

  12. Does the mail actually state whether HMRC themselves wrote the letter or whether it was through a private debt collector that the ex-cons/government introduced (and who should have NO place in collecting public debt)?

    My bets are on the latter.

  13. The tax problem was resolved but the debt collection agency where not called off.

  14. Once again it is not the actual tax problem that causes the upset, it is HMRC's lack of administration skills failing.

  15. @ 20:32

    Nice pointers re Law of Distraint. I will use that one as I've got debt collectors chasing me over a debt HMRC have decided I owe despite my protest that they are wrong... Thank you!

  16. This farming out of debt terrorism by HMRC is going to be utter carnage.
    As anon 21.45 pointed out, the goons/ rottweilers were not called off.
    I have in the last 2 weeks received the usual threat of entrails being sliced and townails removed from HMRC themselves and THEN their appointed heavy mob (a mere two days later)threatened the inevitable decapitation and hanging, so they have me in a football inspired pincer movement...and even MORE laughably, they are wishing to extract TWO COMPLETELY DIFFERING AMOUNTS.
    Left hand, right hand, not knowing what, etc.
    They should change professions and become comedians (though I am getting a fair few chuckles already).......

  17. @09.19

    Careful. Lots of ill informed opinion on here re. what the legal position on HMRC levying distraint actually is. I think you will find that debts,generally, are established, usually by the issue of a demand, and are BELIEVED to be correct by the issuer.Don't mean it is correct of course.No court order required,no suing them for demanding money with menaces etc etc.

  18. 'Lots of ill informed opinion on here re. what the legal position on HMRC levying distraint actually is.'

    And since when did HMRC bother about legality?
    They make their own rules (such is their megalomania/messianic zeal)and in their delusional environ, actually BELIEVE they are correct.
    They are SUPPOSED to be servants of the state and not Stasi inspired thugs (after all, why else would they do the job?).....
    Am just wondering how many suicides or deaths could be attributed to their terrorism....
    Drongos of the highest order metinks.

  19. For all you armchair lawyers out there, I refer my learned friends to the attached link as reported as far back as 26/6/08 and all due credit to Piston Heads web/blog

    [report] [news] Thursday 26th June 2008
    Have you seen this PDF? Seems like its the first step in the debt collection process (before CC)

    This will take you into the domain of the "expert" otherwise known as HMRC.

    Read and digest and note the bit about the letter before the visit, plus HMRC's desire to treat you fairly etc. etc. blah de blah!

    But basically people, if they have correctly calculated the debt, notified you about it and you ain't paid, don't f@@@ing moan about what happens next!

    HMRC is not a registered charity just pay the f@@@ing money!

    If you can't afford to pay you can always ask for time to pay (cue maniacal laughter), but seriously get in touch with someone e.g. Citizens Advice or one of the numerous sites available with help and/or advice. Don't ignore it, deal with it or get help - and if you are genuine and as is likely HMRC has cocked up get your MP on the case - if you don't know who it is there are websites that can help you find out and e.mail direct yourself.

    I rest my case your honour!

  20. "The tax problem was resolved but the debt collection agency where not called off."

    I think you'll find the private sector is no better at this even with their smaller customer base. I've had experience where I have contacted a company several times got through to different staff even when quoting the same ticket number and each time they stated 'not our problem you've been passed to the DCA.

    The DCA themselves were lying betards and kept threatening CCJ's bankruptcy when such attempts would fail.

  21. 'not our problem you've been passed to the DCA.'

    And therefore, does that mean that once a debt is passed to the four appointed DCA's that HMRC is absolved of all reponsibility?
    I have read (on this fine site) that DCA's do NOT report back to HMRC to corroberate debt, etc.
    Is this just another case of paper shuffling, where the relevant Tax employee can tick a box (to be place on a glowing graph) and say, yep, that one is sorted.......?

  22. 24 March 2011 10:32

    I hope you're not making the mistake that you think HMRC staff are happy with this?

    None of us wanted these idiots here in the first place except the ex-con board of directors who were poached from the private sector in order to bring private sector chaos to the public sector.

    They do not care one "£$%£$*ing iota so long as their 200K package keeps coming in and the govt keeps putting out doublespeak about publicly highly paid 'Whitehall mandarins' as if the whole civil service apparently receive such wages but secretly agreeing their contract renewals for another year at least.

  23. 'I hope you're not making the mistake that you think HMRC staff are happy with this?'
    I truly feel for MOST of the beleaguered HMRC staff....Having been one myself,...back in the good old days of HMIT before computerisation and when dusty files could be 'lost' for the price of a box of Quality Street.

  24. Is this just another case of paper shuffling, where the relevant Tax employee can tick a box (to be place on a glowing graph) and say, yep, that one is sorted.......?

    I don't work in debt management. I I was merely suggesting that the reason DCA's were bought in is because it was cheaper, this is apparently how the private sector operate to absolve themselves of all responsibility - so if you are taking a cheap swipe at low paid workers, then you must be prepared to face the reality that HMRC at the higher level grades are just behaving as professionally as the private sector by 'learning lessons' from them.

    I think you'll find that HMRC staff on the ground did not choose the cases that went for private debt collection. A computer programme did. Based on a high level decision. How does someone on the ground argue with a pre-programmed computer formula that hives off several thousand cases? This 'box' was probably 'ticked' by someone earning £80,000 or more not a lower paid staff member.

    At least lower paid staff members have the decency to admit their own errors unlike those in the SCS who emulate the private sector because they know they can get away with it rather like MP's.

  25. @anon 20.24.
    My post was not meant to be a 'cheap swipe, I did choose my words judiciously, as in:'relevant Tax employee'.
    There HAS to be some accountability SOMEWHERE.
    Tell you what, we, the public, surrender, we will clasp our wrists to our ankles (after having a liberal grease up of the lubricant de jour)and brace ourselves.
    Do strap a plank to your back.
    Have a nice day.

  26. Mmmm.... from around about 20:00 things seem to have livened up.
    all I can say is you have not seen anything yet, wait until at least another 10,000 staff join the unemployed.
    Its your hard earned taxes paying for this debacle, wake up for goodness sake.
    There is a huge demo on the 26th, wait and see what happens as the "worm yurns". If you thought the poll tax demo's and pro-hunting and student demo's got a few people on the streets have a look at what your public services can do when they eventually and reluctantly get off their ar@e's and actually say it as it is.
    It's about time Joe Public woke up to what is going to happen - PRIVATISATION of the TAX SYSTEM that's what. Look back in history and see what happens when the "private" sector takes over.
    Service, my ar@e! It will all be about profit.
    And as for Lean/Pacesetter, has anyone in the HMRC "Muppet Show" looked at Japan lately, their Lean and Pacesettered systems are so tightly set that a small blip in the supply chain causes flatulence, an earthquake, tsunami and nuclear catastrophe, well try looking at the US Department of Homeland web and see what is being said - it don't appear in our newspapers you know - ask why?

  27. "There HAS to be some accountability SOMEWHERE.
    Tell you what, we, the public, surrender, we will clasp our wrists to our ankles (after having a liberal grease up of the lubricant de jour)and brace ourselves."

    I agree with you. Don't forget HMRC staff are taxpayers and increasingly in this day and age tax credit claimants as well.

    The accountability needs to be laid at the highest level, yet as with the private sector at a similar level they have all learnt from their cohorts how to escape responsibility in some way or another.

    No one needs to fall on their swords any more, they can merely quote a growth productivity quotient of ΏπӘЯ and be considered geniuses by the financial market.

  28. Ah, the magic word accountability, alas there is none!
    Also absent in a similar way is reponsibility, conscience, business acumen, lateral thought process etc. etc.
    Service to the customer is a joke at best, at worst an insult.
    Write to your M.P.'s nothing else works, nah, on second thoughts add a bit more grease....

  29. Wow, out of the ten of thousands of people who choose not to pay/budget for their taxes, (compared to the millions that do) this one case obviously shows the debt management approach doesn't work.

    As an employee I might be on a similar income to someone who's self employed but unlike them I can't just ring up my payroll and say "don't bother deducting tax this year, I'm a bit hard up - I'll just ring HMRC for a time to pay next year and blame the economic downturn". Over 95% of the contry can pay their tax on time AND correctly - even in this climate.

    Self Assesment (and PAYE returns!) are just that - YOU tell HMRC what is due. If it's wrong, (and shockingly you are pursued for that wrong figure), it's really simple - sack your accountant.

    If the whole country did the above, it would be in tatters.