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Latest HMRC bullying tactics

Latest HMRC bullying tactics

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A client has just brought in a letter they received this morning from HMRC saying that a Self Assessment amount was overdue. The part that I am very shocked by is the second paragraph which goes:

"I don't seem to have received your payment of tax due by 31 January. I am particularly concerned about your debt because our records show that you already have an unpaid tax debt. That is why I am treating your case as a priority, and will be asking one of our field agents to call at your house to remove your possessions and sell them at public auction in order to clear the debt."

What concerns me most about this threatening letter is that it is dated 22nd February 2011 therefore a liability which is hypothetically only 3 weeks late. Also it is only regarding what the Revenue believes is a late payment of part of their 1st Payment on Account for 2010/11, actually the amount is not due as we had reduced their payments on account which the Revenue had still not processed.

When I phoned up to complain about the tone etc of the letter I was told that this is now the new letter that will be sent for all perceived late payments. I am worred about the effect that this will have on some of our more delicate/elderly clients as without wanting to be alarmist this could quite possibly kill some of them or at the very least make them afraid to answer the door.

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By cymraeg_draig
03rd Mar 2011 14:52

The letter is illegal.

 

 

s40 Administration of Justice Act states -

A person commits an offence if, with the object of coercing another person to pay money claimed from the other as a debt due under a contract he-

harasses the other with demands for payment which, in respect of their frequency, or the manner or occasion of making any such demand, or of any threat or publicity by which any demand is accompanied, are calculated to subject him or members of his family or household to alarm, distress or humiliation;falsely represents, in relation to the money claimed, that criminal proceedings lie for failure to pay it;falsely represents himself to be authorised in some official capacity to claim or enforce payment; orutters a document falsely represented by him to have some official character, or purporting to have some official character which he know it has not

HMRC's "field agents" are NOT court bailiffs and have no right to force entry or to remove goods without your permission. If you at any time tell them to leave and they dont, they are trespassing.

 

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By nogammonsinanundoubledgame
03rd Mar 2011 15:30

C_D

I am sure I have seen you mention it somewhere in the past on this site, so I apologise for the repetition, but can you give any black and white authority to show that the courts are prepared to extend the application of s.40 to liabilities other than those under contract?

With kind regards

Clint Westwood

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By cymraeg_draig
03rd Mar 2011 15:57

.

The courts have long accepted that "statutory debts" are the product of a contract between the citizen and the state (that contract being that the citizen pays taxes, and the state in return supplies services).

Further, the Act lays down standards of behaviour for any debt collection activities which are generally accepted as a minimum standard by the courts. Failure to adhere to these standards (as is usually the case with HMRC) is viewed as evidence of harassment giving rise to a claim under s3 Protection from Harassment Act. 

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By CarolaMorgan
03rd Mar 2011 16:05

Payment on Account

Is a payment on account a Statutory debt as it is merely an estimate based on the previous years tax liability and can HMRC really threaten seizure of property on a debt that cannot be known to be due for sure until the tax return is prepared.

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By Old Greying Accountant
03rd Mar 2011 16:46
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By thomas34
03rd Mar 2011 19:15

Good technical advice CD

The threat of removal of possessions does seem to breach the first (of four) bullet points under that section of the 1970 Act particularly if they are misrepresenting "field agents" as having the same rights as bailiffs who at least are armed with a Court warrant.

It really needs a standard written response to be sent to HMRC setting out the law, if this is going to be a common approach by them. Perhaps CD could assist in this respect.

The problem, as is often the case with these things, is that the remedy for what is a criminal act lies with the CPS via the police. I can't see my local PC having the gumption to assist. Hopefully CD can correct or confirm this view.

 

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By nogammonsinanundoubledgame
03rd Mar 2011 19:19

C_D

Forgive me for being persistent.  And likewise if it is the sort of information for which you would normally expect to charge a fee then I would respect that.  However, I would feel uncomfortable pursuing a legal argument of this nature without solid foundations.

I am not saying that you are wrong.  Your experience in such matters certainly exceeds mine.  Indeed I sincerely hope that you are right.  That said, I always ask myself when advancing a legal argument, what am I going to say if challenged that my argument is groundless?  I would not wish to stand before the beak in such a scenario and say "Because C_D says so on AWeb".

In my experience of other disputes there has to be something in the public domain to support the position taken, be it a case precedent, or statutory position, ESC, statement of practice, heck even an HMRC manual reference (although if it gets to court that is frankly grasping at straws).

Where, as here, we are alleging criminal misconduct on the part of an officer of the Crown, I think it would behove us to be on correspondingly surer footing, and yet we appear to be relying on a statutory provision which is unambiguous, names its target and expressly limits that target to a class of individuals to which our adversary is excluded otherwise than by what? Custom?

Now, if you can put your hand on your heart and say that this issue is so well entrenched in legal practice, that every clerk to the court up and down the land will have been told in his Law 101 course that statutory debts are akin to contractual debts, and there is no prospect of my having to go beyond that, then I will accept your word on that.

With kind regards

Clint Westwood

 

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By cymraeg_draig
04th Mar 2011 00:07

Precedent

How about a precedent set this week that we all need to be aware of when clients are hounded - and indeed before chasing up debts owed to us.

 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1362603/Judge-writes-customers-20-000-credit-card-debt-hearing-hounded-repay-money.html

 

The type of dent has no relevance - harassment is harassment no matter who commits it.

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By nogammonsinanundoubledgame
04th Mar 2011 07:29

Hopefully a useful precedent

and yet the debt in that case was a contractual one, so it doesn't really help in addressing my point.  Maybe I need to read the entire case synopsis, which I will not get from the Daily Mail, and I don't subscribe to the All England law reports.  Perhaps a trip to the library will be in order.

Somehow I wonder whether the Administration of Justice Act was the point of law on which this case was decided.  My doubts stem from two matters:

(1) The remedy for a breach of a criminal code is a criminal prosecution.  S.40 provides that "it is an offense" (ie criminal) to breach the terms of that section.  The remedy for a breach of a criminal code is not (as far as I am aware) the setting aside of a civil debt.

(2) The commentary on this case (which of course may not be reliable) states that it is a "landmark" case which lawyers "hope will set a precedent".  This language gives the impression that the precedent has not already been set prior to this case.  That I find worrying.

I cannot help suspecting that the protection against these tactics differs depending on whether

(1) a debt is in fact due in full, or some lesser amount than that demanded, or not at all.

(2) the debtor has the ability to pay immediately, by instalments or at all

(3) there is a history of demands of increasing severity leading to the tactics in question.

If the taxpayer has the capacity to pay, there has been a history of attempts to collect it, and the debt is not in dispute, then my sympathy is rather less than if (as is frequently the case with HMRC) there is in reality nothing due to be paid, and the heavy tactics are launched a week or two after the alleged debt falls due.  I would expect the legal remedies to vary accordingly.

With kind regards

Clint Westwood

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By thomas34
04th Mar 2011 09:43

Clint

I think you're being a bit harsh on CD. It is common knowledge and practice that in extreme cases HMRC can force liquidation on a company or bankruptcy on an individual in order to recover unpaid taxes/debts. It is perhaps unfortunate that CD has chosen a non-statutory debt case to demonstrate the harassment angle.                                  

His original excerpt can be abbreviated for the case in point to "harasses the other with demands for payment which, in respect of any threat by which any demand is accompanied, is calculated to subject him or members of his family to distress". To my simple mind, if CD is right about the field agents, this is indeed a threat by giving the taxpayer false information.

It's easy to challenge legal advice but a lot harder to take on HMRC in practice without recourse to expensive legal representation. My original question remains unanswered inasmuch as how one would seek redress to one's client being the victim of a crime under section 40. We seem to be stuck with asking one prosecuting authority (the CPS) to take action against another (HMRC).

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By kenfrost
04th Mar 2011 09:52

Hypocrisy

The bullying tactics adopted by HMRC re collecting debts are somewhat hypocritical, given that HMRC takes at least 6 months to pay its debts:

http://hmrcisshite.blogspot.com/2011/03/i-like-trucking.html

BTW, as you can see from the above link...it's now OK to use red diesel on the open road as HMRC can't afford to pay for checks to be made etc.

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By nigelburge
04th Mar 2011 10:09

Thanks C-D

This is EXACTLY what is good about AWeb.

I will certainly be quoting this to both my clients and HMRC if any of these letters come to my attention.

Well done. 

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By David Winch
04th Mar 2011 10:41

Official judgment in the "torture" case

The official judgment in the "torture" case referred to in the Daily Mail is online at

http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Mercantile/2011/B3.html

Note that in this case the judge found that he had a discretion under the Consumer Credit Act 1974 to adjust the amount of the debt recoverable by the creditor.  He used that discretion to adjust the debt so that it was to be regarded as settled by the payments already made by the debtor.  This case is, I would suggest, of limited use as a legal precedent because the judge used his discretion based upon his view of the conduct of each of the parties - so the outcome is specific to the particular facts of that case (and to Consumer Credit Act agreements).

The "torture" case was not one under s40 Administration of Justice Act 1970.

There is another recent case C_D will love concerning "harassment" (but not involving tax).  It concerns a solicitor who left his employer and set up in practice (no doubt somewhat in competition with his former employers).  Before long they got into a spat concerning the conduct of a case and the former employers, in a series of letters, made clear to their former employee the (lack of) esteem in which they held him.

The former employee then commenced a civil court action for harassment under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.  Application was made by the defendant firm to strike out the action as being outside the scope of the Act.  They lost.  The former employee was entitled to regard the series of letters as arguably amounting to harassment under the Act.  The case is

http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2011/123.html

Importantly the case involved more than one letter and hence a "course of conduct" arguably amounting to harassment.

David

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By nogammonsinanundoubledgame
04th Mar 2011 10:53

@thomas34

There was no intention to be "hard" on anyone.  I don't think it unreasonable to seek to ensure that any argument that I advance on this basis in practice be as airtight as feasible.  And I would certainly like to use it.

With kind regards

Clint Westwood

 

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By cymraeg_draig
04th Mar 2011 11:52

Perhaps I didn't explain it well -

The Protection from Harassment Act 1997 states that any "course of conduct" which causes distress or fear may constitute harassment.

A "course" means more than one incident. Just 2 letters or phone calls can, therefore, constitute a "course" - although of course the more contacts then the more likely the courts are to act.

"Fear or distress" is an objective test of "what the victim feels".  The intention of the offender is irrelevent - it's the effect on the victim which matters.

The only defence HMRC can of course use, is that their actions are lawful and reasonable as they are pursuing a debt.

THIS is where the Administration of Justice Act becomes useful in that it defines in some detail just what is acceptable when chasing a debt. Whether that debt is contractual of statutory is irrelevent - the definition remains. The Act clearly  defines this as "demands for payment which, in respect of their frequency, or the manner or occasion of making any such demand, or of any threat or publicity by which any demand is accompanied, are calculated to subject him or members of his family or household to alarm, distress or humiliation;"

Further, by implying that their "agents" who actually work for a 3rd rate debt collection company, are in ssome way empowered to force entry and levy distraint in the way tha court bailiffs can, HMRC are "falsely representin (their agents) to be authorised in some official capacity to claim or enforce payment.

Further, by writing letters which deliberately imply that their sagents have powers which they do not have HMRC are producing a "document falsely represented by him to have some official character, or purporting to have some official character which he know it has not".

Therefore, there is a prime facie case under the Protection from Harassment Act.  Quite usefully this Act, whilst primarily a criminal Act enforced by the police, also makes provision in s3 for the victim to take civil proceedings against his tormentor -

3 Civil remedy.

 

(1)An actual or apprehended breach of section 1 may be the subject of a claim in civil proceedings by the person who is or may be the victim of the course of conduct in question.

SO - this allows the victim to seek a remidy where he simply fears that he may be further harassed.  Typically this will lead to the granting of emergency injunctions pending a substantive hearing, and, the courts can award damages.

 

You are not taking action under the Admin of Justice Act, but you are using its very helpful legal definition of what amounts to harassment for a debt, in conjunction with the Protection from Harassment Act.

 

 

Always remember -

HMRC are NOT immune from action under this Act.HMRC's agents are NOT court bailiffs and have no more rights that you or I.No one can remove property without a Court OrderA Court order cannot be legally obtained without a court hearing at which the defendant has a right to put his case.

Anyone purporting to be a bailiff and forcing entry without a court order is a trespasser and can be removed by force and arrested.

 

One last point - EVERY time one of these disgusting letters is received - immediately file a formal complaint copying it to the chairmans office. Every complaint messes up their statistics - serves them right :)

 

 

 

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By Alan Ferris
04th Mar 2011 13:18

HMRC have power of Distraint

"Further, by implying that their "agents" who actually work for a 3rd rate debt collection company, are in ssome way empowered to force entry and levy distraint in the way tha court bailiffs can, HMRC are "falsely representin (their agents) to be authorised in some official capacity to claim or enforce payment. " Posted by cymraeg_draig

But HMRC officers do have the powers of distraint under The Taxes Management Act. 

Taxes Management Act 1970[YTH]61 Distraint by collectors(1)     If a person neglects or refuses to pay the sum charged, upon demand made by the collector, [the collector may distrain upon the goods and chattels of the person charged (in this section referred to as “the person in default”)]1.(2)     For the purpose of levying any such distress, [a justice of the peace, on being satisfied by information on oath that there is reasonable ground for believing that a person is neglecting or refusing to pay a sum charged, may issue a warrant in writing authorising a collector to]2 break open, in the daytime, any house or premises, calling to his assistance any constable.Every such constable shall, when so required, aid and assist the collector in the execution of the warrant and in levying the distress in the house or premises.(3)     A levy or warrant to break open shall be executed by, or under the direction of, and in the presence of, the collector.

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By cymraeg_draig
04th Mar 2011 13:57

As I said

For the purpose of levying any such distress, [a justice of the peace, on being satisfied by information on oath that there is reasonable ground for believing that a person is neglecting or refusing to pay a sum charged, may issue a warrant in writing authorising a collector to].....................

______________________________________________________

As I said - illegal  without a WARRANT (Court Order).

Since the HRA came into force no warrant can be issued without the other party being given an opportunity to put his defence to a court.  Article 6 HRA specifically covers this fundemental and absolute right.

Note also "agents" are NOT collectors and cannot obtain or execute a warrant issued to HMRC.

 

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By WhichTyler
04th Mar 2011 14:33

Wrong: They only need a warrant/order to break in

They have the right to distrain without an order under (1) of s61. (2) just says that they have to have a warrant in order to force entry.

The HMRC factsheet is here http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/factsheets/ef1.pdf and is, I think, pretty clear. Other sources

agree that an order is not necessary (http://taxaid.org.uk/guides/tax-debt/enforcement-action)

My reading of the letter the OP quotes is that there is another debt, as well as the payment on account, that is outstanding, though it could be taken either way. I would try to clarify this at the earliest opportunity, and perhaps advise your client not to allow them entry

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By Alan Ferris
04th Mar 2011 14:38

My Reading too

That is how I read it too, that HMRC can perform a distraint without warrent, but cannot force entry without a warrent.

If I remember correctly cymraeg_draig stated he provided free legal advice, I am suprised then he was not familiar with this law as both an accoutnatn and in giving legal advice.

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By cymraeg_draig
04th Mar 2011 15:04

I'm glad you dont give legal advice -
Wrong: They only need a warrant/order to break in

They have the right to distrain without an order under (1) of s61. (2) just says that they have to have a warrant in order to force entry.

 

Posted by WhichTyler on Fri, 04/03/2011 - 14:33

 

 

And how exactly are they going to levy distraint if they are ordered off the property?  Without a warrant no one can enter or stay on your property if you order them off.  Even police officers can be ordered out of your property unless they are there to make an arrest for an arrestable offence, or, to save life. 

You really need to look beyond the words at the law behind it.

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By cymraeg_draig
04th Mar 2011 15:06

.

If I remember correctly cymraeg_draig stated he provided free legal advice, I am suprised then he was not familiar with this law as both an accoutnatn and in giving legal advice.

 

Posted by Alan Ferris on Fri, 04/03/2011 - 14:38

 

I will take that as the insult it is clearly meant to be. Perhaps when you are legally qualified you will be in a position to argue, until then your views are merely those of an ill informed amateur.

 

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By Alan Ferris
04th Mar 2011 15:11

Take it as you seem fit

The fact is that the it is not illegal as you have stated and I see you cannot admit your mistake but instead seek straws to support it.

Clearly there are two parts to the section, 1) for those who co-operate and do not require a warrent and 2) for those that do not and require a warrent.

Not everybody resists distraint as they accept that it is the path they have chosen rather than pay the debt.  Some people actually sign the distraints and get to keep their goods whilst others do not and have them siezed, with or without a warrent, depending upon the circumstances.

But you claimed they had no right without a Warrent, this was misleading and incorrect.  I think you insult yourself and others by not accepting your error.

 

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By nogammonsinanundoubledgame
04th Mar 2011 15:25

I am slightly surprised at the path this has taken

My reading of C_D's posts is not that HMRC lacked the power of distraint, but that such powers do not provide them with immunity from the Protection from Harrassment Act.

With kind regards

Clint Westwood

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By cymraeg_draig
04th Mar 2011 15:49

.

Not everybody resists distraint as they accept that it is the path they have chosen rather than pay the debt.  Some people actually sign the distraints and get to keep their goods whilst others do not and have them siezed, with or without a warrent, depending upon the circumstances.

 

Posted by Alan Ferris on Fri, 04/03/2011 - 15:11

 

You are clearly attempting to inflame - AND YOU HAVE SUCCEEDED. I resent having my professional expertise impugned by your amateur interpretation of one small piece of legislation whilst ignoring other legislation and I certainly do not require lessons in the law.

Without consent, no one can remove goods without a Court Order - to do so is theft. Therefore your comment above is totally wrong, and not only misleading, but verging on criminal if that is the "advice" you give your clients as you would in effect be aiding and abetting a thief. Again you chose to ignore the FACT that without a warrant they are simply tresspassers who can be dealt with as such.The so calleded "agents" are not employees of HMRC and therefore have no rights at all.The law of harassment applies to EVERYONE including HMRC staff. As previously pointed out HMRC cannot seize anything without a court order, and cannot legally obtain a court order without the defendant being given the opportunity to contest it in court (A6 HRA)

I only hope your grasp of accountancy is better than your grasp of law.  

 

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By Mouse007
04th Mar 2011 15:55

If HMRC break the law, report them to the Police.

Last year I sent the following and got a very quick response.

 

"Mrs X, one of your debt management officers visited the home of Mr & Mrs Y yesterday and left a letter, dated 9 July 2010 (copy enclosed), which has caused considerable alarm and we are writing to make a formal complaint about both this visit and the content of her letter.

This letter is addressed personally to Mr & Mrs Y and, by making no reference to any other party, gives the impression that they owe you £22,525. This is false and we believe that the letter was deliberately drafted to give this false impression. This could be seen as an offence under the Malicious Communications Act 1988.

The letter gives no indication as to how or why this alleged debt arises. It contains a clear threat to levy distraint on Mr & Mrs Y’s goods and assets and to commence County Court proceedings against them, making specific reference to the effect thereof on their credit rating.

The reference number quoted on the letter however relates to a Limited Company, Z Limited, the debts of which are not liabilities of Mr & Mrs Y and a company which has never had any association with their home address. We believe that you know this and that these threats are accordingly clear breaches of the OFT Debt Collection Guidance which stipulates what practices would be considered unfair and therefore constitute harassment.

Threatening one party over the debts of another party is clearly wrong and unlawful harassment is a criminal offence under Section 40 of the Administration of Justice Act.

Indeed it is our opinion that this letter may constitute a false document which you know (and intended) to be false. That would be an offence under the Fraud Act 2006.

We shall be advising Mr & Y of our observations and opinions and recommending that a complaint about these potential offences should be made to the police. Whether they will wish to do so may depend upon how, and how quickly, you react to this complaint."

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By nigelburge
04th Mar 2011 16:39

"Last year I sent the following and got a very quick response."

Can you please post the response here?

I am sure we would all be very interested given that this kind of HMRC harrassment seems to be on the up.

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By cymraeg_draig
05th Mar 2011 08:17

Well, well, well

Just opened this mornings post and in it is a letter from an outfit called "CCS Collect" making all sorts of threats. 

This letter breaks so many laws I dont know where to start.

It's addressed to us, not the client.It's an ex client so there are serious issues of Data Protection by disclosing his affairs to us.It threatens a visit to our premises - I hope they can get to the gate in 9 seconds, the dog can do it in 10 :)It threatens bankruptcy proceedings - has no one told these cretins that you cant make someone bankrupt for debts under £750.It contains the term "arrest" implying possible arrest - which is of course a totally illegal threat.It threatens seizure of goods - since it is not our debt that would be theft then.There is, of course, no court order in place so non of the threatsare legally enforceable.It clearly states that they act on behalf of HMRC - which makes HMRC jointly liable for their actions.

I am going to really enjoy this. I rather think I will be having a "little chat" with CCS & HMRC - in a court room.

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By nigelburge
05th Mar 2011 11:26

You go C-D......................

It is indeed a shame that we cannot all get down to Wales to see this Courtroom drama -I for one would dearly LOVE to see HMRC get hammered!! 

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By cymraeg_draig
05th Mar 2011 11:39

Nigel

I'll be filing it in Surrey which is where these clowns are based - they even put a premium phone number on demanding you call it - as if !

Their website is interesting too - seems they also work for a lot of car clamping firms, which tells me they clearly have no moral standards.

 

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By Old Greying Accountant
05th Mar 2011 20:35

That's my neck of the woods

Let me know when, I'll come and watch, I'll even buy you a drink if (sorry, when) you win!

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By richardterhorst
07th Mar 2011 11:56

Even Government and HMRC must obey the Law. C_D is right.

 Must admit that C-D is my type of person when dealing with HMRC.

From some of the comments it would appear that many think HMRC can act outside of the law. Who ever heard of getting someone declared bankrupt without a Court process. Come now. Same with seizing assets.

We are not in Libya.

Also there are not two laws. One for us cretins and one for thugs in the civil service.

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By SHIVKRUPA
07th Mar 2011 12:09

Nice one! CD

If you ever file something like this in Wales - let me know, I too would like to come and watch!!

 

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By weaversmiths
07th Mar 2011 12:48

Bailiffs

When I was training as a COT (pre SA) for Distraint purposes, I was informed that I was an IR Bailiff with full Bailiff powers.  I used to carry the TMA 1970 relevant Section with me.  The Distraint proceedings could only be carried out with the  Taxpayer present.  There was an official Distraint form which gave the TP 3 days to get the money together but I had discretion to lengthen this period and always did so, usually giving 14 days.  Of course, there was a charge to the TP for going down this route and this paid the outside Bailiff who accompanied me.  (I refused to use my Bailiff powers without back up, despite the Regional Office insisting I went out alone).  I still have the scars from a dog who was set on me and have to keep my leg covered as it is unsighly.  The Revenue were not interested - did not even want the matter recorded in the Accident Book (it was), did not want me to go to hospital (I did)  or the Police informed (they were).   So a Collector's lot is not a happy one(;-(. Most people do not want to end up in County Court with CCJs so they take the Distraint route as a CCJ is the next step.  

There were only certain things we could take so Distraint was not really effective in a private home as rule of thumb was taking items which would cover the debt at 10% of their original value at Auction.  I did want to issue Distraint on  a WW2 Tank  (TP was a particularly nasty piece of work of old)  but the Bailiff said it was too cumbersome to just collect if he didn't pay.(;-).  I would love to have driven up to IR in it. ha.ha.

 

TheAncientOne

 

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By cymraeg_draig
07th Mar 2011 15:49

Bailiffs - living proof that in some humans evolution stopped in

These clowns are not even HMRC collectors - they are a private firm contracted by HMRC, which means they have no more powers that the man in the street.

Even if HMRC obtain a court order and dispatch court bailiffs to your premises you don't have to let them in. They can't force their way in, but they can enter through an open window or an unlocked door.

Forced entry includes pushing past you once you have opened the door to them, or leaving their foot in the door to prevent you closing it. Such action would make the whole process illegal.

Bailiffs recovering unpaid magistrates' court fines, however, do have the power to force entry, but this is always a last resort.

Bailiffs trying to recover money you owe to HMRC are allowed to break into your home, providing they have a magistrates' warrant.

ALL bailiffs and debt collectors (with or without court orders) are bound by the Office of Fair Trading’s debt collection guidelines, which forbid harassment and threatening behaviour.

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By JC
07th Mar 2011 17:23

ccscollect - interesting ....

@cymraeg_draig - perhaps a bit more ammunition

http://www.ccscollect.co.uk/time_to_think.htm

.. Legal Notice

This game is an unofficial clone of the original [email protected]
game and not endorsed by the registered trademark
and copyright owners Atari Interactive, Inc ....

Does this mean that this debt collection company is a party to copyright infringement (theft) and if so perhaps this opens another can of worms .... !

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By cymraeg_draig
07th Mar 2011 18:31

.

Does this mean that this debt collection company is a party to copyright infringement (theft) and if so perhaps this opens another can of worms .... !

 

Posted by JC on Mon, 07/03/2011 - 17:23

 

It doesnt help the actual arguement - but - if someone was feeling particularly vindictive they "might" just find out if anyone actually owns the copyright ................................

Not that I would ever be so vindictive :)

 

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By Old Greying Accountant
08th Mar 2011 00:19

Whilst not condoning violence or threats or intimidation etc

I would question the mindset of someone who wishes to be either a collector of taxes or a bailiff of any ilk and find it hard to feel sympathy in any great measure for any woes that befall them along their career path. Especially these days when the fruits of their labour is p****d against the wall by their so called superiors either keeping their troughs full, feathering the nests of the workshy (both homebred or imported) or fighting wars that are none of their business.

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By cymraeg_draig
08th Mar 2011 11:17

Now I'm not the vindictive type - honest :)

 

But I've just spent a couple of hours checking out this "collection company" that HMRC are passing personal details of clients to - and I'm not impressed. 

Many years ago my army instructor said to me - "get your enemy down, and then kick his head in before he has chance to get up again".  Good advice which has always served me well. In any court case the secret is not to simply "win" - it is to totally destroy the other side usinf any and every weapon you can.

I'm outraged that a company supposedly acting for a government agency can write to the wrong address, and then make a series of threats which a first year law student on his second day would know to be illegal. It is not acceptable that ordinary taxpayers (many no doubt unrepresented) are being threatened in this way. 

 

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By weaversmiths
08th Mar 2011 15:06

COTs

 "would question the mindset of someone who wishes to be either a collector of taxes or a bailiff of any ilk and find it hard to feel sympathy in any great measure for any woes that befall them along their career path. "

 

When one is  employed and is told to do a job, unfortunately one has to do it (if one has any sense).  People do not necessarily start out as  Collectors of Taxes.  For example, I started out In Manpower Services Commission, Training Services Division, which handed out grants to Industrial Training Boards.  Fate brought me (unwillingly) to the Inland Revenue.  Few Civil Servants would choose the path to IR or even the CSA.  But we cannot all be popular can we?

TheAncientOne

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By weaversmiths
08th Mar 2011 15:17

C-D
Nigel

I'll be filing it in Surrey which is where these clowns are based - they even put a premium phone number on demanding you call it - as if !

Their website is interesting too - seems they also work for a lot of car clamping firms, which tells me they clearly have no moral standards.

 

Me, too.  I would love to see some "come uppance".  Will it stay in Surrey?  Almost my neck of the woods and certainly within travelling distance.

 

TheAncientOne

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By Old Greying Accountant
09th Mar 2011 10:16

If someone tells me to jump

I say why, not how high sir: may be that is why I am self-employed!

Or may be that is why this country is in the state it is, because people don't have the balls to say, no, that is not right. Best cop out in the book that, "not my fault, just doing my job". I for one was not prepared to sell my soul for an inflation proof pension at 60 (I know, watch this space), buckets of annual leave and a job for life.

I don't tar everyone with that brush, and I know there are many in the civil service doing a good and conscientious job and they don't all get the headline grabbing rewards, but, that said, there are plently of little Hitlers in the civil service who relish their jobs, the control they have over people and the misery they can wreak by the rigid enforcement of petty and mindless rules and bureaucracy, small minded and too short sighted to see past the end of their desk, happy to make people jump through pointless hoops for reasons long since forgotten.

Tying in with other threads on confiscation orders etc, OK, may be they are criminals (although often the letter of the law and the vox pop would disagree), but in the big picture, taking everything from some one is not necessarily a good thing. Yes there are criminals with families that if not actively abetting turn a blind eye, but equally there are many where the first the spouse knows is when the bailiffs turn up so the effect on them, and any children, the stress to elderly parents etc is not justice, nor is the loss of jobs to tens possibly hundreds of people people diligently carrying out their work unaware that the boss did not have the correct bit of paper in place.

So, in these enlightened times there has got to be a better way than banging people up (which in my view should only be for violent crime) or taking all their property (or both), especially when parliament is full of the biggest parcel of rogues you could imagine!

 

 

 

 

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By dropoutguy
09th Mar 2011 11:31

Excellent thread

Well done to all!

I shall come back to this one should an offending letter surface on one of my clients.

 

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By cymraeg_draig
09th Mar 2011 11:40

.

 I shall come back to this one should an offending letter surface on one of my clients.

 

Posted by dropoutguy on Wed, 09/03/2011 - 11:31

 

It's only a matter of time .....................

 

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By weaversmiths
09th Mar 2011 11:49

If someone tells me to jump

"I say why, not how high sir: may be that is why I am self-employed!"

I, too, had your view until I started the job.  It did not consist merely of Bailiff duties, this was a very small part, (about 2 days a month).  There were quite a few old established firms who would not pay over their PAYE dues unless someone called for them because that is how things used to be and that is what, in their view, a COT did.  Then there were those who wanted to use the monies stopped from their underpaid employees for their own use and not pay it over to IR.  These, surely, do not deserve anybody's sympathy? Then there were the Self Employed who either had fallen on hard times or those who thought that if they ignored or binned all of their brown envelopes they would get away with it (the kind of people I act for nowadays!).  I got on well with almost everyone I dealt with and they always knew I was visiting (provided they opened the brown envelope).  Many were relieved to see me as they knew they had to face up to things eventually and I had the drop on them - the most basic human emotion is fear and when someone comes up your path to knock on the door it is natural to experience a level of fear until you see that person.  So, the fear was even greater as they knew a COT dragon from IR was coming and they opened the door to see? - me!  and the fear immediately lessened. I was female and pleasant, laughed a lot, not officious in the least and there to sort their problems out.    You get far more out of people if you are nice to them.  Apparently I was very good at the job.

If everyone paid their correct dues would things be better for us?  In an ideal world the answer would be yes.  As I am a fairly right wing thinker you can imagine my feelings on most gov spending and management of resources.

 

TheAncientOne

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By Old Greying Accountant
09th Mar 2011 12:35

Unfortunately...

... there are not enough like you :) I did say there are exceptions

As for not paying over tax deducted from employee's, whilst yes that cannot be condoned, there are many these days who can barely afford the net pay, and are so scared by the pro-employee legislation find it hard to reduce their main cost, labour.

Furthermore, that then opens up the whole debate on PAYE as a tax method in the first place regardless of how government mis-spend the receipts!

Here's a thought, why not abolish PAYE but make payments to employees non tax deductible in the employers accounts (like dividends), that would sort out the coding notice fiasco!

VAT, that's another one, what a waste of time, people fretting should I claim this, do I declare that - scrap it, have a flat rate turnover tax instead.

Not saying these ideas perfect, but they are food for thought, we all seem to try and make what we have work rather than looking for better alternatives.

As accountants risk assessment and risk management are banged in to us, surely it is better to treat the disease not the symptom and have a tax system fit for purpose and not one held together with gaffer tape and old coat hangers?

 

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By weaversmiths
09th Mar 2011 17:23

Ask the experts

Nobody ever asks the actual HMRC employees at ground level.  They are the ones who could work out much better systems and put them forward but they are looked down on from on high.  They are given ill conceived sytems to operate, often failed computer systems from another country or department, plus they have to speak to the public who are convinced that it is THEIR fault (myself included when I am on  a rant).  Perhaps if noses were kept out of other countries business and attention paid to matters pressing in this country we might make some progress.  HMRC needs a lot of attention and help and it is not getting it.  It is madness (and always has been) to pension off your experienced officers leaving inexperienced officers at the helm.  Might cut the wage bill but jacks up the pension bill (or am I missing something here).   Dont start me off - I spent all day yesterday writing letters to the ijits(:(.

TheAncientOne

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By cymraeg_draig
09th Mar 2011 18:01

I dont entirely agree

Nobody ever asks the actual HMRC employees at ground level.  They are the ones who could work out much better systems and put them forward but they are looked down on from on high.   Posted by weaversmiths on Wed, 09/03/2011 - 17:23

 

Unfortunately there are a lot of obnoxious "little Hitlers" at ground level too.

Some are OK, but others would be far better suited working as car clampers.

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By trecar
10th Mar 2011 15:10

HMRC bullying

 To go back to the original post.

I always aim to ensure the client is put in a position to understand what is going on. If HMRC are being heavy handed my first instruction is to tell the client to contact me immediately if anyone from HMRC contacts them. Protection of the client is the number one priority.

Going on from there I have to admit that the vast majority of cases I have come across invariably have HMRC failure somewhere in their makeup. So my next priority is to identify the failure(s) and contact COT to inform them and advise them what action I will be taking with the SA/CT etc team. After that the gloves come off. If a person turns up claiming money that is not legally due I tell the client to phone the police and have the individual arrested for demanding money under false pretences. My experience is that the individual makes a rapid retreat and refers back to the COT for advice. (The police have never actually needed to be called).

With regard to the current letter the wording is deliberately constructed to frighten. So respond to the writer in like manner, threaten all mayhem and destruction and let the client see the letter. It does wonders for their confidence in you and helps to calm them down. If the tax demanded is wrong then say so. HMRC can only collect what is legally payable and if they try to collect more then they can suffer as can any other recalcitrant debt collector.

In 40 years experience I can honestly say that nasty and threatening collectors have been a rarity. I usually find that compromises can be achieved and evil action dispensed with.

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By cymraeg_draig
10th Mar 2011 16:02

Not collectors

In 40 years experience I can honestly say that nasty and threatening collectors have been a rarity. I usually find that compromises can be achieved and evil action dispensed with.

 

Posted by trecar on Thu, 10/03/2011 - 15:10

 

That may work with Tax Collectors, but this is a nasty little debt collection company employed by HMRC. These people are used to collecting clamping fees and the like so the law is something they know nothing about. 

I am currently awaiting a reply to a request made to HMRC for a copy of whatever lawful authorisation they have for disclosing a clients personal data to a third party. 

I also await with interest their "collectors" arriving at MY property as threatened in their letter addressed to our client but at this address. It will be entertaining watching their representative try to get to the gate before 2 rottweillers and an alsation :)

 

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By billgilcom
20th Mar 2011 00:44

Pensions

Pensioning off the oldies meant that the labour costs went down but the pension costs were picked up outside the HMRC.

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