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Taxman may be allowed to delve into personal accounts

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05/07/2007

Tax owed to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) could be taken automatically from defaulters’ bank accounts, civil servants have proposed.

It is estimated that HMRC pursues about 200,000 people through the courts every year, although many officials see this process as time-consuming and costly.

The new plan, if implemented, would allow HMRC to bypass the choked court system and give it direct executive power against the most determined defaulters.

Tax partner at accountant Pricewaterhousecoopers (PwC) told the BBC there were reservations about the proposed scheme. “Are we certain that people really owe this money?” he asked.

“We’ve got to have safeguards to say that it’s definitely owed and properly proceeded against. The taxpayer must have some right of appeal.”

His doubts were echoed by an Essex-based independent financial adviser. “This could mean that the taxman is judge, jury and executioner. HMRC is far from being the most efficient body in the world and I would certainly not like to see it with this sort of power.”

Taxpayers have until mid-September this year to make a contribution to the public consultation on the proposals.

A spokesperson for HMRC said: “High-profile tax avoiders will be taken to court within weeks. Around 40,000 people suspected of being significant tax dodgers will now be pursued vigorously.”

 

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