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HMRC Debt Management letter

HMRC Debt Management letter

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My client just received a reminder letter for a second payment on account.  Paragraph that really gets me is:

"If you do not pay or contact us, we can visit your premises and arrange for your possessions to be sold by public auction, as the law allows".

Seriously!  Is this an acceptable paragraph when a payment is 22 days overdue?  A payment which is a provisional amount anyway, not even a calculated liability (I know I know poas are legally due and payable).

Also, this client has a near perfect payment record, only reason this was actually late was because the Tax Return was supposed to be submitted showing a reduced payment on account but wasn't.

I'm sorry, but I think this is a disgraceful paragraph to use on a first reminder for a client who normally pays on time.

I also know its all automated, but for someone who always pays their tax on time to get a letter like this is just wrong.

I am wondering if this is just the norm now or whether the amount of the tax has anything to do with it?  This was for just short of £15k.

Anyone else seen these letters?

Replies (19)

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By johngroganjga
11th Sep 2013 15:32

And ..... can they enter and distrain of their own volition or do they need a court order?

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Replying to johndon68:
Red Leader
By Red Leader
11th Sep 2013 15:41

do it themselves

I think HMRC do not need a court order unlike other creditors.

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Replying to johndon68:
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By pawncob
13th Sep 2013 17:20

It depends

It really depends what they're doing. If they're collecting a debt, they can knock on the door and politely ask for payment.

 

Beyond that they need a Court Order following judgement.

 

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/manuals/dmbmanual/DMBM666310.htm 

 

 

 

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By ccassociates
11th Sep 2013 15:45

Ill Thought

Its just another example of the ill thought and poorly designed letters produced these days by HMRC, I am sure they are designed to make us angry.

The problem lies with DMU, their officers have little or no working knowledge of how tax is calculated or works, they are just collectors, and many of them are becoming too big for their boots, but there who would want that job anyway?

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Replying to lionofludesch:
By JCresswellTax
11th Sep 2013 15:49

Agree

ccassociates wrote:

Its just another example of the ill thought and poorly designed letters produced these days by HMRC, I am sure they are designed to make us angry.

I agree, I mean all this letter done was make this particular taxpayer angry and dislike HMRC even more.

I would have thought this sort of threat would be kept for a 3rd reminder perhaps? Not after 22 days, to me thats just nonsense.

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By andy.partridge
11th Sep 2013 15:56

Honest

These letters are only aimed at frightening the honest taxpayer.

The dishonest ones treat them with the contempt they deserve.

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By tom123
11th Sep 2013 16:08

Customer statements

Imagine if trade suppliers used language like that on customer statements - no one would have any customers left.

There is a time and place for the heavy hand, but not 22 days.

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By petersaxton
12th Sep 2013 14:37

My experience

I had a similar letter and I phoned them up and tried to reason with them. I couldn't get any sense out of them. I tried to keep quiet and let them go on about it. They lectured me about putting funds aside to pay the tax - this was a payment on account as well - it turned out that when the accounts were prepared the money wasn't due! In the end I couldn't take any more. I explained that if the government had to behave the same as taxpayers then this particular debt collector would have been out of a job because HMRC couldn't afford to pay him. He said that he couldn't comment on that but it seemed to stop his pontifications.

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By jon_griffey
13th Sep 2013 11:57

One rule for one....

 

In my experience the non-compliant taxpayer who runs up tax debts perhaps going back years often gets left alone.  The ultra compliant who has paid everything on time for years, but on one occasion is a few days late, they come down on like a ton of bricks.

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Replying to TomHerbert:
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By The Black Knight
13th Sep 2013 16:00

You're not wrong there.

jon_griffey wrote:

 

In my experience the non-compliant taxpayer who runs up tax debts perhaps going back years often gets left alone.  The ultra compliant who has paid everything on time for years, but on one occasion is a few days late, they come down on like a ton of bricks.

You're not wrong there.

Advice used to be if you were having trouble paying talk to HMRC

now it's keep your head down ignore them and don't open the door to strangers.

still it's just HMRC! because they are failing at their job of collecting missing tax big time and are just taking it out on the innocent.

We have been served with an information notice because HMRC hadn't opened the post.

I do wish they would use their powers for the intended purpose rather than abusing them.

They also turn up at directors houses for company debts and pretend they can distrain on personal assets,...basically no one is playing by the rules anymore and it's as if they don't exist.

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By NYB
13th Sep 2013 12:37

HMRC Threats

All the time - threats akin to loan shark threats. Must frighten some individuals witless.

Maybe we better get Margaret Hodge Chair of the Public Accounts committee on to it. She is forever hauling over the coals that l HMRC woman as to the behaviour of HMRC. Mind you nothing ever changes

Automated letters is no excuse.

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Replying to David Treitel:
By itp3asso
13th Sep 2013 16:59

hmrc threats

employ mrs stemcor what a capital idea
poacher turned gamekeeper what ?

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By Ken of Chester le Street
13th Sep 2013 13:19

One of my clients, and elderly lady , had a letter threatening distraint and all sorts of nasty things, because the bit of HMRC website that processes applications to reduce POA's wasn't functioning as it should. 

In the end we got an apology and a cheque for £25, about 10% of my time, but that's life.Not every little old lady scares easily, certainly not this one. Ex missionary, ex  tea planter, lovely lady. 

But some people do scare easliy, normally people who have no need to.

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By Paul.Chillman
13th Sep 2013 14:03

And when did the July statement arrive ?

I received 2 client statements from HMRC in the 3rd week of August.  A lot of people wait for the statement before paying (not these 2 fortunately) so how many late payments have occurred because of the tardy delivery of statements?

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Replying to Hanleymail:
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By nig1954
13th Sep 2013 14:58

Tribunals View

I'm afraid this approach is typical of the views often  aired at tax tribunal meetings.My recent experience in relation to appeals against penalties for late payment of tax has been that the judges regard the tax payment dates as sacrosanct.  It's usually extremely difficult to persuade them that there can be extraneous circumstances which affect taxpayers ability to pay on time. Their view is that Parliament has legislated and that HMRC should be treated differently to other creditors. There doesn't seem to be any sympathy for a taxpayers predicament. Sadly this view also  seems to be holding up in discussions with HMRC staff regarding late payment of tax so I'm not surprised at the content of their letters because I think this approach will be upheld if the matter ever reaches a tax tribunal hearing

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By [email protected]
13th Sep 2013 15:01

HMRC

We didn't get DMU letter for one of our clients, the debt management unit phoned our office at 8pm last night, leaving a message instead. When I phoned them this morning, they wanted us to make a payment on behalf of our client!!  When I pointed out that the 2nd payment may not be due and that because of this we may be issuing a claim to reduce the 2nd POA, the HMRC individual got stroppy and stated that they will have to refer the situation to the local office!  They really are not helping anyone...

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By markabacus
13th Sep 2013 15:24

Debt letter alleged unpaid P11D's

Seems another one going round at present are letters from HMRC debt section claiming alleged non payment of Class 1A's. Thankfully I don't do this for many clients. Rang the tel no on the letter 0300 200 3812 only to be greeted with a msg saying "experiencing high call volume" and suggesting I should try again later. 3 days and 4 more attempts and I got through at 8:05!

Good news having got through I was able to deal with 2 clients. Had to call another day for a 3rd. As I say don't do many, that was 3 out of 4! I decided whilst dealing with the 3rd I'd ask about the fourth but ironically that was fine.

In all cases the tax had been paid and was sitting in the current tax yr. The HMRC officer said they'd fix it.

Did they, well 2 of the 3 clients have advised they have another letter dated some 8 days after my call to advise that as they had done nothing to resolve the problem that HMRC deemed the non payment to be deliberate. So now the clients are wondering have we really done anything or just said we had!

So not only are HMRC unsympathetic and heavy handed, living in an 'Ivory tower', they don't do anything when you do phone in!

I suppose there is no reason for them to improve as short of emigrating you can't take you business to an alternative supplier!

 

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By adagen
13th Sep 2013 19:00

Randomised control trials

Your client might have ended up in the 'threatening letter' population being subjected to one of the randomised control trials being pushed by the Cabinet Office 'Nudge Unit' and adopted by HMRC.

The Nudge Unit promotes the use of behavioural psychology to influence how people react, and it appears that the approach is being adopted somewhat cack-handedly by a number of civil service departments. There have also been some questions raised about the ethics of the covert use of this sort of influencing.

These links may be of interest:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9853384/Inside-the-Coalitions-controversial-Nudge-Unit.html

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/62529/TLA-1906126.pdf

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By Cath Walker
13th Sep 2013 20:54

I get fed up of calling on behalf of clients, who owe HMRC no money but have had a demand due to an HMRC error - and the first question the ask 'Have you called to make a payment.' Really makes me cross - no I bleeping well haven't!! Then when they finally agree they've made a mistake and they actually owe the client, 'we'll arrange a repayment, they'll get it in about 3 months time'. Grrrrrrr!

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