HM Revenue & Customs have set their sights on the Elderly, it would seem. According to a rise in complaints about the tax office, they are giving debts to bailiffs to collect, with no warning to the taxpayer. In most complaints, the individual has no idea that they have owed money to the HMRC.
A lot of complaints on Social Media and Citizens Advice all show that hardly anyone receives letters from HMRC ,or bailiff companies, before they come knocking. The harassment is embarrassing for people who can easily pay back their unknown debt, and who should have been informed before getting harassed by recovery agents.
This influx of debt recovery complaints about the HMRC are the aftermath of the tax office attempting to recover a backlog of taxes, which are more than a decade old, as well as trying to find the annual £34bn in unpaid tax.
As well as this, complaints are on the rise, Citizens advice received 200 000 complaints back in 2006. Fast forward 10 years to 2016 and that number has doubled to over 400 000. Some of the debts being recalled are those from people on benefits who received too much money. However, a lot of these people have taken to twitter to complain, stating that they received no letters and were completely unaware of their situation. One couple from the North West stated that they had no idea about their debt, and upon ringing HMRC to settle it, were told to settle with their bailiffs.
Many people on twitter are complaining that HMRC are going after the little guy, and are accusing them of using scare tactics to scare the public into giving the tax office money. HMRC stated at the beginning of the year that they are to investigate 20 wealthy individuals a year, as well as large corporations. However many people are concerned that they will continue to hunt the poor to settle debts on their books.
HMRC have released a statement on the issue, saying that they will always inform tax payers of any debt that they owe to them. However that once they have sent two letters, that they will pass on their debt to a debt collector, and that the person in question will have to get in contact with them to settle outstanding debts.
It seems this is yet another nail in the coffin for HMRC, with complaints this year soaring – along with the leak of the panama papers, can it save itself, or will its new overhaul cause more drama than its worth?