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HMRC aggressive tax collection

we have some instances of clients unable to pay substantial (six figures) tax bills immediately and wish to negotiate into sensible time to pay arrangements.  currently we are unable to get past the HMRC collection call centre - their approach is aggressive, patronising, uncooperative, and in one case, utterly counterproductive.  does anyone have any experience of how to get past these people to someone with whom one can have a sensible negotiation?



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14th Mar 2011 14:42

HMRC debt collection

 Are you using the following Time to Pay section numbers.I have always found the staff answering the phone to be cooperative

0845 366 1204 personal tax

0845 302 1435 corporation tax

0845 302 1435 vat

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14th Mar 2011 22:28

Make the Time to Pay team a formal offer.

This should be both reasonable and something the client can afford to pay, say payment in installments over 12 to 24 months.

If the Time to Pay team refuse this or put forward an excessive offer (in your judgement) explicitly ask for a formal refusal so that "you can demonstrate to the judge that reasonable offers of payment were rejected". This SHOULD stir them into action so that they will grudgingly accept your terms.

If they still refuse, then you should write to them demanding formal refusal of the offer and advising them in writing that you need this so that you can demonstrate to a judge at any hearing that reasonable attempts of settlement were made and rejected. Hopefully, this will get escalated up to a reasonable level of management that the written offer is accepted.

If not, when you do have a formal rejection, simply advise any HMRC or debt collection agents that you will see them in court. As soon as court papers are recieved, repeat your offer of payment in settlement. HMRC would be beyond stupid to reject your offer of payment at this point (possible, but unlikely).

Since liability has been accepted and payment offered, there will be no court case (just papers) and any attempt at costs over and above the original payment can be rejected as you have continuously offered reasonable settlement terms.

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14th Mar 2011 22:38

One addition

Excellent advice - all I would add to Frustrated's advice, is that in your responses you should slip in a paragraph to the effect that their continual refusal to accept your clients perfectly reasonable offer is causing distress to the client, and that the tone of their continuing demands is causing fear to your client.  This constitutes harassment and you will pursue damages for their unreasonable behaviour in any subsequent court case.


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14th Mar 2011 23:26

Not sure what you mean by "Excellent advice"

This is YOUR advice C_D, as you have drummed into us, day after day, week after week, month after month.


 C_D's 10 Commandmants

Just because HMRC says it's so, don't make it so.Don't put up with HMRC incompetence.Don't put up with abuse from HMRC, either to you or your clients (It is taxpayers that pay the price of HMRC salaries and gold plated pensions)If you or your clients are subject to harassment from HMRC or their agents, complain, escalate and if necessary obtain legal injunctions.If you or your client is in the wrong, offer to settle - but only on terms that are acceptable to you and your client NOT HMRC's terms.Fundamentally each and everyone of us works for our clients NOT HMRC.If HMRC incompetence or stupidity causes additional work, bill client and pursue HMRC for it via complaints procedure.If repayments are due and not paid, then gain confirmation from HMRC and pursue them through the small claims track of the county court (with HMRC slovenliness the case should be settled before HMRC open the original N1 Claim Form).If HMRC stonewall complaints, then escalate to HMRC executive (Dame Leslie Straight-Lie, Dave Hairnet, etc.)Record all telephone conversations with HMRC so that their lies and evasions can be given the audience it truly deserves - in court.

Did I miss anything of significance Sensei?


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14th Mar 2011 23:35

Gold star.

Very good - you're learning grasshopper :) 

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succesful complaint.

Re complaints, I have just secured about £600 and an apology following a botched tax investigation.

Admitedly I have spent a lot more than a day on the matter, but client is happy and I have at least got something for my troubles.

I think I will be sticking in more of these in the future.

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15th Mar 2011 15:19

Ive had some success ... but how do HMRC get away with it?

I have had quite a lot of success over the years with a few thousand pounds of compensation but I have earnt every penny. In fact it is zero compensation. Let's call it getting most of that due returned. Actual compensation is a slightly different matter.

What a shame the chap had to work more than a whole day to get over £600. Just what rates is he charging HMRC as I do have to say that ther should be a cap say at £60 p/h where any complaints within a firm can be comfortably dealt with in the main by staff earning a maximum of this amount?

Don't thread contributors believe that the compensation system ought to reflect the respect and position of the agent and not all of a sudden someone who must be challenged at every opportunity by HMRC. Agents are believed all the way down the line with SA yet all of a sudden we must involve and put out of pocket the other poor sod in this 3 way relationship, the client. I suppose afterall isn't he the cause of all the trouble looking to find out what his tax bill for the year is and wishing to be traeted in a fair and competent manner?

It cannot be right the agent has to rely on the generosity of his client to temporarily bail himself and the tax man out for HMRC's sheer utter incompetence. Why must we rely on these client's cash flows to support these often large amounts of fees that are absolutely nothing to do with the client? We understanably don't always get a co-operative, affluent client and so we lose out big time on our rightful compensation when HMRC are incompetent. How can HMRC get away with this ridiculous system for so long? Why at such a late stage dont they trust us to work out our rightful compensation with a rightfully capped hourly rate odf course. Has anyone else bothered to ask why we MUST involve a client? Afterall this cranks up the costs big time as anyone who has been involved willl know.

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