Taxation – Courts target late payers

Self-assessment taxpayers who miss their payment deadlines – even by as little as a fortnight – could find themselves hauled up in front of magistrates under a new crackdown by tax collectors.

The change follows months of negotiations between Inland Revenue officials and magistrates’ representatives resulting in new procedures that give tax collectors greater access to the courts. Many taxpayers have already been hit.

Bill Strang, of Devon practice Peplows, said clients who had missed the end of July payment deadline, but who were otherwise up to date, had already been threatened.

Paignton tax office, he said, appeared to be working through a list of late payers threatening them with court action less than a fortnight after the 31 July deadline.

‘It seems very heavy-handed,’ he said.

Ernst & Young’s Alastair Kendrick said cases were emerging where employers were being ‘instantly threatened with a magistrate’s warrant’ if they missed PAYE deadlines.

Malcolm Marsh, honorary secretary of the Justices’ Clerks’ Society, which advises magistrate courts, said: ‘The Revenue was interested in making greater use of magistrates’ courts. It is now more cost effective for them to do so.’


The Inland Revenue will use a dedicated unit to tackle tax evasion by London subcontractors in the building sector, following the introduction of the new construction industry tax scheme this month, writes Nick Huber.

It will now rely on a unit staffed with ex-special compliance officers.

One Big Five tax expert said: ‘Subcontractors have been one of the easiest people to target because it’s easy to prove someone is using a false certificate. The Revenue has had its biggest successes here.’ Separately, accountants have reacted angrily to the government’s decision to delay reviewing its personal services company crackdown until the Autumn, as exposed by Accountancy Age last week. Ernst & Young tax partner Anne Redston said the government should not have gone on holiday without clarifying the situation.

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