Saturday, 11 February 2012

Trials and Tribulations dealing with the Taxman

Since becoming an MP, I have been surprised by the volume and nature of the problems that constituents have in dealing with Her Majesty's Customs and Revenue, aka the Taxman.

After a recession, and with constraints on the availability of credit, perhaps it is little wonder that I get a lot of letters and constituents coming to local surgeries on this topic. HMRC was recently criticised for its cosiness in dealing with the tax bill for big business, here. But, I am increasingly concerned about the draconian approach it takes to small businesses and others - especially companies with viable business plans but short-term cash flow problems.

Equally, I have to say that I am struck by the high-handed attitude of HMRC officials. For example, did you know that it is standard practice to resolve small to medium size disputes over tax bills orally over the phone? But, what happens if the 'agreement' is later disputed in good faith by one side? There is no written record of the terms - so HMRC's word prevails automatically. I don't know any other walk of business life, where that kind of arrogant amateurism prevails.

So, I am looking back over the cases I have dealt with, and compiling some wider research, with a view to raising the broader competence of HMRC as an issue in Parliament. So, if you have had a nightmare dealing with the Taxman, please let me know (by email or letter).


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