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MPs concerned over plans to let HMRC raid bank accounts

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A group of MPs has criticised plans allowing the taxman to reclaim money directly from people's banks accounts.

The Treasury Committee said the measure was “very concerning” because HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) had made mistakes in the past when determining how much money taxpayers owe.

Chairman of the Committee Andrew Tyrie said: “People should pay the right amount of tax. But HMRC does not always ask for the right amount.

“Some taxpayers may find money taken from their accounts that later should be paid back. That would be unacceptable.”

Chancellor George Osborne first unveiled the plans at this year’s Budget.

Under the proposals, which are subject to a consultation which ends on 29 July, HMRC would be granted new powers to recover tax debts from anyone who owes more than £1,000 in tax or in tax credits. HMRC insists it will only take the money if the individual has £5,000 left across all of their bank accounts.

The tax authority said 17,000 people would be affected by the new rules.

It also confirmed it would consider seizing money from joint accounts, a move described as “retrograde”.

Martin Taylor of claims company Rebus Group, said: “The tax system is based on the individual and by accessing joint accounts, HMRC may be infringing on the rights of the spouse, which is a retrograde measure, back to the days when tax liabilities were joint liabilities of a married couple.”

MPs are now calling for a “lengthy and full consultation”.

In a report, they said: “Giving HMRC this power without some form of prior independent oversight-for example by a new ombudsman or tribunal, or through the courts-would be wholly unacceptable.

“The ability directly to have access to millions of taxpayers’ bank accounts raises concerns about the risk of fraud and error, and this should also be covered by the consultation.”



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