HMRC now ‘Judge & Jury’
In the latest furore to engulf HMRC, Gary Richards, chairman of the Law Society tax law committee, has stated in a letter to The Times that the new powers granted to the taxman have turned them into both judge and jury.
“It can now assert that a decision in one taxpayer’s case is relevant to another taxpayer’s dispute and, unless the second taxpayer obtains judicial review or persuades HMRC otherwise, if that taxpayer continues with his appeal but loses he is at risk of penalties”, Mr Richards writes. “For taxpayers to be penalised simply for questioning HMRC’s view is wrong, and the Law Society has consistently argued this point with officials.”
This follows on from increased pressure on HMRC from MPs and Civil Rights groups in recent months over extensions and proposed changes to their powers –
- The ability to access taxpayers bank accounts and deduct the tax without their approval. The deductions are limited to taxpayers who are “recalcitrant debtors”, and will leave at least £5,000 combined in their bank accounts.
- Plans drawn up to sell anonymised data of taxpayers to private firms – described as “borderline insane” by the MP David Davis.