Leading Tax Expert Adds To Criticism Of Plans To Grant HMRC New Powers

MPs Call For ‘Lengthy’ Consultation On Chancellor’s Proposals

09.05.2014

David Shirt, Press Officer | 0161 838 3094

A leading tax expert at national law firm Irwin Mitchell has echoed the concern expressed by the cross-party Treasury Committee in relation to proposals allowing HMRC to seize money from the bank accounts of people who owe tax.

Phil Berwick, partner* and Head of Contentious Tax at law firm Irwin Mitchell, says the proposals  which were announced at the Budget earlier this year demonstrate that the current efforts by HMRC to chase debts are ineffective.

The comments from Mr Berwick follow the release of a report today by an influential Commons watchdog which says it has 'considerable concern' about the proposals made in March by the Chancellor George Osborne.

The report calls for a 'lengthy and full consultation' and highlighted that there was scope for fraud and error if the plans are given the go ahead. It adds that "this policy is highly dependent on HMRC's ability  accurately to determine which taxpayers owe money and what amounts they owe, an ability not always demonstrated in the past."

The plans, which are estimated to affect 17,000  people each year, have been defended by the Government.

A spokesman for the Treasury said: "The Government's long-term economic plan is to reduce the deficit so that we deal with our debts. It is therefore important that people pay the tax they owe on time. Although the vast majority do this, there is still a minority that chooses not to pay, despite being able. The proposed powers will give HMRC another tool to collect tax debt owed. The current consultation includes a range of safeguards to ensure the power is tightly targeted."

* non-lawyer