Legal News

HMRC Cash Seizure Rights On the Way

The Finance Bill currently in Parliament will confirm that HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) are to be given the right to seize money directly from the bank accounts of taxpayers who have failed to pay their taxes.

Under the rules, HMRC will be able to take money, but must leave the taxpayer a minimum of £5,000 in their bank or building society accounts, and can only abstract money from accounts with a minimum of £5,000 in them. In addition, the banks etc. which transfer your money to HMRC will be able to levy a charge for doing so.

HMRC will be able to exercise 'direct enforcement' to collect tax debts of more than £1,000. It is estimated that this will affect some 11,000 taxpayers annually and will generate about £100 million a year for the Treasury.

The changes give the taxpayer the right to object to the County Court, although how useful this might be after money has been seized is a moot point. As always with such measures, the Government claims that the new power is 'not expected to have any economic impacts', and although the greatest impact is likely to be on smaller businesses, asserts that 'the measure will have no impact on small and micro businesses...'.

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    Concern has been expressed about this in many circles. HMRC's record for accuracy in tax assessments is less than stellar and it is feared that this could cause unnecessary hardship. It is also of concern that in order to make this work, HMRC will clearly need to be able to 'associate' different accounts held by the same taxpayer.

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