Firms warn on new powers for tax officers

Accountants have warned against tax officers being given powers to make
arrests, execute search warrants and even take fingerprints, saying the move
could intimidate and threaten taxpayers.

The new powers are part of a government plan following a review of HM Revenue
& Customs, following the amalgamation of the Inland Revenue and Customs
& Excise last year.

HMRC staff have since complained that while Customs investigators have tough
investigatory and arrest powers, Revenue officers are much more dependent on the

But Clive Gawthorpe, a partner at the accountants Hacker Young, said giving
similar powers to Revenue officers would leave taxpayers feeling intimidated.

Steve Simmonite, a partner at the accountants Grant Thornton, agreed saying
such powers ‘have never before been needed by Revenue staff’.

Simmonite claimed that tax officials had already become more aggressive since
last year’s merger.

The HMRC said the proposals were still being discussed and that ‘safeguards
would protect taxpayers’.

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