A few weeks ago I noted the following:
"HMRC debt collection agents out in the field are now forbidden from contacting HMRC offices to validate the debts that they are being asked to collect.
It seems that the support teams back at base do not have the time to take phone calls.
That at least is the official explanation given to the field farce. However, it is widely suspected that the real reason is that HMRC is preparing the ground for this work to be given to private debt collection agencies. These private agencies, quite correctly, will not be able to phone up HMRC offices and ask for details from confidential records.
FYI, the budget announced that another £500M of debt would be handed over to private debt collection agencies to chase.
Well it seems that a pilot scheme went very well for the debt collection agencies.
The agencies were given a tranche of work to do, and a control tranche was left with HMRC teams (but was left completely untouched).
Can you guess what happened?
Yes, that's right, the debt collection agencies won!
The FT now reports that four debt collection agencies (Commercial Collection Services, Credit Solutions, Fairfax Solicitors and iQor Recovery Services) will be used by HMRC to collect an extra £140M of tax owed this year.
I dare say a wander through Google may well highlight the "house style" and "idiosyncrasies" of these firms (eg iQor Recovery).
HMRC cite the fact that their "pilot scheme" (that I referred to a few weeks ago) was so successful, that using private firms is therefore a good idea.
We shall see!
Tax does have to be taxing.
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