HMRC powers v. Taxpayers’ safeguards: Let the debate commence. By Nichola Ross Martin

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At the tail end of its review of Powers, deterrents and safeguards, HMRC has produced a consultation paper called Safeguards for taxpayers, which considers what is there in terms of non-tax legislation to protect taxpayers rights. This paper does not come up with anything approaching a taxpayers charter, or indeed anything similar, but it does manage to bring together some background on the current selection of safeguards that we have in place.

My understanding of it all is that tax legislation should already contain fool proof built in safeguards, and non-tax legislation should be there as an emergency back-up. The trouble is that there is now so much of every type of legislation that it is impossible for any mere mortal (or tax writer) to get to the bottom of it all, let alone, actually...

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By Anonymous
25th May 2007 12:57

What a mess
If a full-time professional cannot make sense of the Tax Legislation and HMCE also struggle to make sense of it then how on earth is the average taxpayer supposed to make sense of it all.

It's even worse for the self-employed where there is now several pieces of legislation in force that are vague and without clear legal definitions of who is in and out of the scope of the legislation.

Paying the 'right' amount of tax is all very well in theory but if neither HMCE, courts or taxpayer can conistently interpret the legislation in a way that all agree on then how on earth can anyone establish what the 'right' amount of tax is.

What makes it worse is HMCEs move to automatic penalties and criminal sanctions. It is all very far from a clear and understandable tax system.

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25th May 2007 13:58

Unhappy with the state of affairs?
Then take part in the consultation - draft your own reply if you want or get in touch with whichever professional body represents you and ask them what they are doing about the consultation.

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By P&G
29th May 2007 15:38

Another new series of Big Brother
Just as C4 starts their new series so does HMRC. Yet more powers, as if they do not have enough already, its strange how in Countries where you are guilty until you prove your innocence before a judge and jury of one, our current president, (sorry Prime Minister) would call that person a tyrannical despot. Yet mere Inspectors at HMRC already seem to have the same power, and they still want more!!

Jim Greenwood must be naive if he thinks posting consultation responses will do any good. They've made their minds up already whether we like it or not, and our professional bodies lack the voice to lobby successfully because they are too busy trying to achieve their own agendas rather than looking after their members. After all look how successful "Working Together" is. HMRC officers are not even aware it exists let alone have access to it or follow it.

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29th May 2007 16:55

Don't be defeatist
I am willing to try. Look what happened about the Carter recommendation for filing returns early, look what happened to the question of paper returns, look what happened to the new Taxes Management Act, look what happened to the question of "HMRC thinks". Unless the Bodies had done something HMRC would not have changed their views. HMRC is now listening even if they do not always do what they are asked. After all it is their job to administer the tax system. They cannot always do what I want.

Just two items below to confirm the previous comments.

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29th May 2007 17:02

Powers of HMRC
I notice with interest the powers attempting to be imposed by HMRC. It is worrying if every Taxpayer has to be interviewed without prior consultation. I don't know about the rest of the UK but in Southern Scotland the trend is to cross-examine a Taxpayer for 3 hours and build a case against them - irrespective of any wrongdoing. For instance many questions will relate to private expenditure and cash held - if the total of all expenditure (even if it is from guestimates) exceeds income the Taxpayer will be accused of undeclared income; if the Taxpayer's expenditure is less than the income declared HMRC will accuse the Taxpayer of lying due to not having the cash deposits to balance.

It must remain a Taxpayer's right not to be bullied and intimated into paying money to have a case stopped - which is the current trend in Scotland. Some of the injustices which we are uncovering lately are horrendous to say the least, especially for those working from home, who are highly vulnerable.

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30th May 2007 10:18

Never joke about Uzi
A combination of increasingly draconian powers and unnecessarily belligerent attitudes, combined with increasingly farcical incompetence, means that HMRC will need to become armed, in order to restore co-operation from taxpayers at some point.

HMRC seems to be modelling itself on the Russian system. At least the Italian system is far kinder and importantly, less violent.

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