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Stroppy Collector

We have a plumber client who does his own CIS returns. He could not understand why he apparently owed c£1500 unpaid tax at the year end and we agreed to try and reconcile the position. After some investigation it appears he made 2 or 3 errors over the year, the main one being he entered the gross payment in the tax deduction column (although some how paid over the correct amount of tax that qtr) and the net result was that far from owing HMRC money he has actually overpaid.

We notified HMRC Newry (dealing with CIS) on 1st Nov of the adjustments needed and keep the collection people informed along the way with copy letters etc. However yesterday a local debt management officer called at the clients home threatening to take possession of goods etc. He went away leaving the usual letter. I then faxed through to his office copies of all correspondence and telephoned him today on the only number left - his mobile.

His attitude was that he didn't care if the tax was payable or not. Was uninterested in any correspondence previous. As long as the tax was showing as due on the computer it was hhis 'duty' to collect it. I tried to continue to talk to him but he then cut me off!

My questions:

1. Apart from chasing up Newry (i've tried but they're on skeleton staff due to snow!!) to ensure CIIS return is amended asap

2. Is the officer right in his attitude - not morally (I know the answer to that) but legally?

3. What if he (as threatened) returns - what actually are his powers

4. I believe his attitude and manner was a disgrace - is it worth complaining?

Would love to hear any thoughts out there in the season of goodwill to all (well most) men!

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Hit them hard

His attitude was that he didn't care if the tax was payable or not. Was uninterested in any correspondence previous. As long as the tax was showing as due on the computer it was hhis 'duty' to collect it. I tried to continue to talk to him but he then cut me off!

 

File an immediate formal complaint about both his attitude, and the fact that the tax is not owed.Point out that by attempting to collect monies which HMRC "know or ought to know" are not owed he is committing an offence under s2 & s4 of the Protection from Harassment act 1997, and under s40 Administration of Justice Act 1970.Should he again visit the client he has no right to force entry.To ensure this does not happen, put a simple statement of the facts together showing that no moniesa are owed, complete a form FP3 and get an injunction from the local County Court forbidding HMRC from harassing, threatening, intimidating, or contacting [clients name] until such time as liability has been formally agreed.  An injunction can be granted in 24 hours without the need for a hearing where it can be shown that HMRCs actions are causing fear or distress to your client.The injunction should apply to "The Chairman of HMRC and all officers, employees and agents of HMRC."The court fee for obtaining the injunction should then be reclaimed from HMRC on the basis that it was neccessary due to their wholly unreasonable behaviour.  

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Stroppy Collector

Thanks for the advice - a better approach than that suggested by my client (which I'll leave you to guess!)

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Stroppy Collector

I would also threaten to get the client's local MP involved - always a useful tool.

This is all a bit worrying if this is to be their new attitude as I  have a client who has just received a demand for PAYE tax from 2003/04, for a business that incorporated that year and has since been dissolved.  As it is for the pre-Ltd period they are threatening the individual at his home.  The unbelievable aspect of this is that the Debt Management letter has no telephone no and no return address!  It just shows the website where payment can be made.  And yes I checked, it was not a dodgy website so I do believe this is genuine.  I have done the only thing I can in these circumstances and sent a complaint letter to the PAYE letters black hole.  Let's see if I actually get an answer before another stroppy collector turns up on the client's doorstep.

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Thanks Chris - looks like my link got screwed up somehow.

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Having ...

... obtained the injunction, do you have to physically serve it on someone in order that it be effective, or do you just hold onto it to serve on the visiting bailiffs/officers?  Or does the Court automatically forward notice to HMRC?

With kind regards

Clint Westwood

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Service of injunctions
Having ...... obtained the injunction, do you have to physically serve it on someone in order that it be effective, or do you just hold onto it to serve on the visiting bailiffs/officers?  Or does the Court automatically forward notice to HMRC?

With kind regards

Clint Westwood

Posted by nogammonsinanun... on Wed, 08/12/2010 - 14:01

 

The court will serve it on the person named (ie. Chief Executive, HMRC) but you will have a copy which you should show any collector still stupid enough to call.  If he doesnt instantly apologise and leave call the police as ignoring an injunction is a serious offence - in theory the collect and of course the Chairman can be jailed for a considerable time. It constitutes a contempt of court, which is guaranteed to put judge's backs up. 

Incidently an injunction becomes enforceable the moment the judge grants it. Delays in actually serving it are irrelevent, and a person can breach an injunction even if they did not know it existed. Obviously the penalty imposed by the court would be reduced accordingly in such a case.

So in theory, if a court granted me an ex-parte injunction at 10am today forbidding you from posting on AWeb, and I posted it to you so you will receive it tomorrow, and you posted here at 3pm today, strictly speaking you would be in breach of the injunction and guilty of an offence despite not knowing an injunction had been granted. 

  

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Thanks!

As a first step I've sent a formal complaint to the local collector's office so we'll see where that gets us - thanks for the advice.

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I love it, but ...

... does s40 Administration of Justice Act 1970 apply? Is tax a "debt due under a contract"?

 

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Complaint Cases

When writing to complain put "COMPLAINT CASE" (larger letters than body of the letter) centred in the middle of your letter before the Dear Sir line.  Also put the same on the top left hand side of the envelope.  It will then bypass the idiot(s) who tell us that they dont open the post for 6 weeks.  I always send such a letter by Recorded Delivery - this ensures that it is delivered separately from the usual general post, they also cannot claim to not have received your letter.

The people who open the post look out for these specific words.  I find I usually receive a reply within a few days when I am in "rant" mood as HMRC has to take a Complaint Case seriously.  It also shows you know how to complain.

Best of luck.

TheAncientOne

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... does s40 Administration of Justice Act 1970 apply? Is tax a "debt due under a contract"?

 

Posted by b.clarke on Mon, 13/12/2010 - 11:45

 

Yes.  Over the years the courts have taken a fairly wide view of the term and view pretty much any debt or alleged debt as being "under a contract". Certainly we have never had any problem using s40 against HMRC, and indeed various other bodies.

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