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HMRC defends tax collectors after claims of 'heavy-handed tactics'

HM Revenue and Customs HMRC
HM Revenue and Customs HMRC

Customs and revenue chiefs have hit back at claims they use "heavy-handed tactics" to claw back unpaid VAT and tax.

Nick Paterno, boss of Sidcup-based chartered accountants McBrides, which has clients across Kent, said yesterday companies were shocked at the methods being used by HMRC tax collectors.

These, he said, included unannounced visits and repeated rejections of requests for time to pay.

But an HMRC spokesman said today:"HMRC treats all taxpayers equally and consistently, and has a proven record of offering a range of support for businesses in temporary financial difficulties in the current climate, to help them manage short term cash flow problems.

"HMRC does not carry out unannounced visits to collect debts. Any such visits will have been preceded by a clear warning, whether verbal or written, that we will make a visit to collect payment if a debtor doesn’t pay or contact us within a specific time period."

Nick Paterno from chartered accountants McBrides
Nick Paterno from chartered accountants McBrides

Nick Paterno from chartered accountants McBrides

The spokesman said HMRC "endeavoured to assist any customer who contacted them in the best way we can".

She added: "We endeavour to assist any customer who contacts us in the best way we can and we encourage anyone struggling to pay an HMRC debt to call us. If a business is having problems with its tax debt, it should contact our Business Payment Support Service as soon as possible.

"We do take a sympathetic approach to businesses that have genuine short term difficulties in paying the tax they owe. We will always try to help where we can and when people in temporary financial difficulty come to us with realistic proposals to pay.

"We have an outstanding track record in supporting those who are experiencing genuine difficulty paying their debts and this approach will continue."

Information is available from HMRC's website for people who think their tax payment is going to be late or can see a problem in paying.

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