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    Guest Editorial by Tony Margaritelli

    Anthony Margaritelli, chairman of the ICPA, wants everyone to send HMRC one message regarding its proposals to take funds directly from people’s bank accounts:  “No”!

    HMRC's Direct Recovery of Debts

    (Click Here for Tony's Video Blog)alt

    29th July is a very important date. Why? You may ask.  Well, the answer is that it is the closing date for responses to HMRC’s consultation on the proposals for the direct recovery of debts or, to put it another way, the raid on our bank accounts.

    I suppose it is fair to say that what is being proposed has generated a wealth of opposition from agents, taxpayers and politicians alike as they all recognise exactly what is being proposed, namely that HMRC will have the ability to take funds directly from our bank, including our savings accounts, and including our joint accounts with husbands, wives or partners who are not in the slightest involved.

    Furthermore, in order to help them make their decision they will require the banks to supply up to one year’s transaction information to help them draw their conclusions so no doubt there will be a cost from the banks which in turn will also be taken from our accounts.

    This consultation starts from the position that HMRC are perfectly capable of undertaking the work they are stating will be done before they take the money and, further, that they have the administrative capabilities to carry the job through. By carrying the job through I mean not only working out hopefully detailed cash flows based on scant information with no help from those whose cash flows they are looking at (try it yourself: it’s nigh impossible) but also to deal with the taxpayer. I question whether those responsible for working out whether there is sufficient money within the account to take without disadvantaging the taxpayer, will be the ones who take the calls.

    Will the much-vaunted dedicated telephone helpline actually work? Well, this is HMRC remember - the self-same department that was roundly criticised by the PAC for its handing of telephone calls and let’s not get into letter handling and writing issues.

    Better men than I will set out technical arguments against the proposals stating how they believe it contravenes Magna Carta, human rights legislation or insolvency law but for me, the whole issue revolves around whether HMRC can administer this fairly and accurately and, for me, it’s a non-starter.

     I understand that they say letters will be sent and ’phone calls will be answered but failings of this type in the past only resulted in stress and anger, now add to that stress the fact that money has been taken against your will; and why?  Because you never received these letters or you tried to ring the dedicated helpline and couldn’t get through or you are a partner or husband, or wife of a taxpayer who has been informed about their debt BUT they haven’t told you. How would you feel when your money is taken to settle their apparent debt?

    I urge every accountant or tax adviser or taxpayer that reads this to download the document from the HMRC website and actually spend half an hour reading it and, if at least twice you don’t shake your head in disbelief of what you are reading, then you most certainly have not had many dealings with HMRC in the recent past.

    Please take a few moments to watch my recent video blog on the matter and then respond to HMRC in no uncertain terms so that this dangerous nonsense does not come to fruition – not at least until HMRC can win back the respect of the agent community and the taxpayer and then we can discuss the technical issues.   

    Regards,

    Tony Margaritelli

    Chairman ICPA

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