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HMRC debt management turned up at client's house

Tax not due yet and no overdue amounts. Client is really shaken up. Anyone had this??

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A client's daughter has just phoned me in a panic.  A man from HMRC debt management has turned up at their house (registered office for Ltd co) and said they had a large amount of corporation tax overdue.  In fact there are no overdue amounts and the CT is due at the end of the week.

She got hold of her dad on the phone who spoke to the man and who explained the tax wasn't due until 1st October and the man went back to his car, and then posted a standard "Pay now to avoid further action" letter through the door stating the 'overdue' amount (which is the same as the amount due on 1/10) with a handwritten note on it saying "I have left a standard letter only so that you have my details.  You're correct this amount is not due until 1/10/21 per my system.  I cannot say why it is on my list and can only apologise".

Has anyone had this?  I want to put in a formal complaint as the (young adult) daughter was really shaken up, the husband and wife directors are also shocked and upset.

Any advice?

Replies (19)

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By AdamMurphy
29th Sep 2021 15:08

I don't know what logic HMRC use for chasing debts because I have some clients who get chased almost the day after it's due, and others go unchased for years. There's no pattern at all.
I would definitely put in a formal complaint in your case, it's shocking behaviour.
It's a shame HMRC don't go after the big corporations with such zest.

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By Paul Crowley
29th Sep 2021 15:15

Probably a waste of time
HMRC do not seem to learn from customer interaction
And any reply would take six months

Thanks (4)
RLI
By lionofludesch
29th Sep 2021 16:27

This is one I'd definitely be passing to my MP for "comment".

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By David Ex
29th Sep 2021 17:11

Luke wrote:

Any advice?

I’d be complaining to/via my MP. Shocking that they would do that not only because of the impact on the individuals but also the gross incompetence it demonstrates.

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By Paul Crowley
29th Sep 2021 17:17

My annoyance would be if the debt collector started discussing company matters with some person just answering the door.
An issue for the directors, and only the directors

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Replying to Paul Crowley:
Giraffe
By Luke
29th Sep 2021 19:48

Yes, I will check how much they discussed with the daughter.

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By Open all hours
29th Sep 2021 18:41

Client had an erroneous debt management visit three years ago. No one home but the collector did make it clear to the neighbours who he was and where he was from. Neighbours (small rural community this) told him to come see us, 3 miles away. We were able to show, via HMRC online record, that the amount he was attempting to collect was not due. We accepted his apology but we could not persuade him to report back to our clients neighbours.

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Replying to Open all hours:
Giraffe
By Luke
29th Sep 2021 19:47

Wow, that is awful and so unfair. Did you make a complaint to HMRC?

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Replying to Luke:
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By Open all hours
30th Sep 2021 01:00

Yes, platitudinous response. Fortunately clients neighbour was onside so no lasting damage but still a potentially disastrous situation which HMRC brushed off.

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Replying to Open all hours:
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By Tax Dragon
30th Sep 2021 07:11

Platitudinous
/ˌplatɪˈtʃuːdɪnəs/
adjective

(of a remark or statement) used too often to be interesting or thoughtful; hackneyed.

Great word. But if, as I infer from that, the response you received is one HMRC routinely provides (have I understood correctly?) that's more than a little bit worrying. Kinda suggests this sort of incident is [or is accepted as] 'normal'. And it patently shouldn't be. (But against that, I'm not aware of anything like it happening to any client here. Ever. So I do find this all a little bit odd.)

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Replying to Tax Dragon:
RLI
By lionofludesch
30th Sep 2021 07:36

We all make mistakes.

Doesn't mean that we shouldn't apologise when they happen. Which is now, apparently, official Government policy.

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Replying to lionofludesch:
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By Tax Dragon
30th Sep 2021 08:55

Absolutely. There should be more honest apologies. In here, too.

But you raise a question in my mind. Some folk might consider "I'm sorry" platitudinous. And an apology was pushed through the door in the OP's case. What response - what "comment", as you put it - would be acceptable in these circumstances?

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Replying to Tax Dragon:
ALISK
By atleastisoundknowledgable...
30th Sep 2021 09:13

Yes - TBH the actual debt collector has done everything he could possible do (awaiting details of what was/wasn’t said to the daughter).

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Replying to Tax Dragon:
By Duggimon
30th Sep 2021 09:47

Tax Dragon wrote:

Platitudinous
/ˌplatɪˈtʃuːdɪnəs/
adjective

(of a remark or statement) used too often to be interesting or thoughtful; hackneyed.

Great word. But if, as I infer from that, the response you received is one HMRC routinely provides (have I understood correctly?) that's more than a little bit worrying. Kinda suggests this sort of incident is [or is accepted as] 'normal'. And it patently shouldn't be. (But against that, I'm not aware of anything like it happening to any client here. Ever. So I do find this all a little bit odd.)

Platitudinous can also just mean it's used to fob someone off, a phrase needn't be often used to be platitudinous, merely used without sincerity.

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Replying to Duggimon:
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By Tax Dragon
30th Sep 2021 10:22

Every day is a school day, thank you. (I forgot the first rule of using Google - never take the first answer given as correct.)

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Replying to Open all hours:
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By Moo
04th Oct 2021 10:22

Sounds like a clear case of defamation of character to me. No reason why HMRC staff should be exempt from legal action if they spread false information about someone that unjustly harms that person's reputation.

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By SecretariuS
01st Oct 2021 10:48

I have a client who paid her tax for January and July 2022 up front in September 2021 so that she didn't forget to pay next year. HMRC have automatically, it would appear, returned the amount due in July 2022 as a repayment. This was in the region of £2k. I would have thought they would have been pleased to receive the money in advance but I suppose "computer says No."

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Jennifer Adams
By Jennifer Adams
01st Oct 2021 18:32

There is a set procedure regarding such complaints and you should write - it will only take a few minutes.

See these articles for guidance:

https://www.accountingweb.co.uk/tax/hmrc-policy/how-hmrc-handles-complaints

And my article:
"Do accountants complain about HMRC's service enough'

https://www.accountingweb.co.uk/practice/general-practice/do-accountants...

>. dont be put off by the date of writing (2018) - the comments are still valid.

Thanks (3)
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By Anthony G Thorne
02nd Oct 2021 16:04

I would suggest that any disclosure breaches the duty of confidentially set out at s18(1) of Commissioners of Revenue & Customs Act 2005 and which is potentially a crimunal offence.

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