MPs criticise HMRC


Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs has been heavily criticised by the Treasury Select Committee in a report that fears the actions of the tax authority could “undermine respect for the tax system”.

The report was born out of an avalanche of consumer complaints that have been directed at HMRC over the last year or so, with regards to their general service and their money reclamation tactics. The nadir of these tactics was seemingly reached when thousands of threatening letters were sent to people warning them that their possessions were in danger of seizure, in some cases people who owed no tax whatsoever received these letters.

The report focussed on these heavy-handed letters and delivered some damning words: “These letters appear to have been widely used without sufficient thought to whom they were sent to, even being sent to people who did not actually owe money. We recommend that HMRC take steps to ensure such hard-hitting correspondence is used in a more proportionate way”.

The report also pointed at HMRCs general level of service as being of a poor standard. Taxpayers often experience great difficulty with getting in touch with HMRC, and further problems raised included the monumental PAYE mess up that resulted in thousands of people being given incorrect tax bills. The report added: “Poor service standards have been an issue for many years and have not been fully reflected in HMRC’s customer service measures.”

Despite the report HMRC remain defiant, a spokesman said: “We know we have a lot more to do to improve our services to customers. But HMRC is in a much stronger position now than in 2010 and plans to go further.”