HMRC strong-arm tactics

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HMRC have launched an odd offensive against people who owe them tax- guilt tripping them and then threating to take their possessions.

HMRC have again been accused of adopting strong-arm tactics as reports have emerged of threatening letters warning the debt holder that their possessions will be seized if the debt is not settled. However, the letters don’t stop at mere threats, they also go on to plead that the bill is settled to avoid the nation’s sick, young and elderly from suffering.

The letter also warns that items seized will be sold off at public auctions for a fraction of their original worth. The letter, found by the Financial Mail and confirmed as genuine by HMRC bigwigs, reads: “Since I last wrote to you, most of those still owing tax have paid, making their contribution to the vital services we all depend on.

“We still haven't received your tax payment, and my team are now focusing attention on the rapidly reducing number of people like you who have yet to pay. Not paying your tax on time has serious consequences.”

“We must collect this tax from you to pay for the hospitals and schools we all rely on.”

“We will do that by taking your possessions and auctioning them publicly. We don't like doing this because people have told us it is embarrassing for them and it will cost you so much more to pay this way.”

For instance, if your car is worth several thousand pounds, it might sell for only a few hundred pounds at auction, a flat-screen TV costing £2,000 would typically sell for about £200-£300, and an £800 laptop would sell for about £100.”

As is now becoming the norm, HMRC’s debt recovery tactics have attracted criticism from various corners. Labour MP George Mudie told Money Marketing: “It is not for the Revenue to behave like thuggish bailiffs threatening to seize people's property. It is inappropriate and immoral to use such threatening, harassing language.”

Interestingly, the threats in the letter not only go against actual law, but also HMRC’s advice on its very own website. The site says: “You do not have to let the bailiffs in to your home. If you refuse entry to a collector they can apply for a warrant to break in to your home but this is hardly ever done. We cannot use force to enter your premises, unless authorised by a Justice of the Peace.”

When quizzed on the matter a HMRC spokesman remained defiant and insisted the letters are justified: “If someone doesn't pay their taxes we all suffer. We all have rights as taxpayers but we also have responsibilities, one of which is to pay our taxes on time. It is a matter of fact that the largest chunk is spent on hospitals.