My thanks to a loyal reader, who wrote to me last week about the problems that some of her clients are having with HMRC's debt collection tactics. She asks if anyone else is having similar problems:
"I am accountant acting as agent for several small companies who, through no fault of their own and generally, due to cash flow issues caused by their dealings with large corporate entities, are late with their payments of PAYE.As ever feedback and comments are welcome.
These companies are regularly late but not overly - it may be that they are making monthly payments up to 3 weeks behind schedule.
HMRC have taken to sending collection agents to the companies, without warning, to visit and threaten to distrain over goods and assets, usually with no information as to the amounts of PAYE due: they are speaking to any employee they come across without gaining preliminary security clearance.
If I were to do this, as an unsecured creditor, to any of my clients who were 30 days late in paying my account, it would be construed as harassment, yet HMRC consider themselves above this.
Despite explaining to these agents that the employer they are harassing is not holding off PAYE because they want to and that as soon as cash flow permits, payment will be made which is evidenced by the employers payment history, regular visits are being made to premises which unsettles employees to put it mildly, and time wasted on these visits which could be put to better use in production of goods or services.
Employers are aware that interest will be charged on late payment and this is accepted, but constant harassment should not be allowable, particularly as small employers are held up to be the 'saviour' of the UK GDP by Government spin doctors and that their voices are being heard when this is clearly not the case.
I have written formally to complain, but the letters go unheeded.
Has anyone else suffered like this, to your knowledge?
I would very much welcome discussion on this."
Tax does have to be taxing.
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