Fears over outsourcing tax debts

The outsourcing of debt collection by HM Revenue & Customs demands proper
oversight and the publication of standards governing the conduct of contractors
undertaking the work, a consumer charity has warned.

Accountancy Age revealed in February that the taxman was to
outsource debt collection, but it has emerged that a six month contract has been
awarded to iQor, which
collect debts in Canada, India and the Phillipines.

Chris Tapp, director of consumer charity group CreditAction, said the absence
of transparent guidelines to protect taxpayers in the scope of the contract is a

‘Our fear has always been about ensuring there would be oversight with what
the agency was doing. There needs to be customer satisfaction work done on
behalf of HMRC,’ he said.

It is understood that iQor will receive 25% of every debt settled in payment,
further highlighting the need for guidelines to be transparent, according to
Tapp. iQor is only permitted to make phone calls and write letters to debtors.
‘We’d be interested to know whether there’s any monitoring in the frequency of
phone calls and whether they’re calling at anti-social hours,’ said Tapp.

According to Peter Lockhart, senior officer of the Public and Commercial
Services union, 2,000 cases, mostly self assessment debts have already been
assumed by iQor.

He said he is expecting internal dialogue over the handling of taxpayers’

HMRC declined to comment.

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