Taxman gets tough over old debts

And practitioners are being told to tighten up their own procedures to avoid the risk of liability should a client fall foul of the tough new regime.

The wake-up call came as the Revenue began to introduce strict new national guidelines for tax debt collection, which aim to remove differences in the way regional offices have worked in the past.

‘People have got to wake up to this otherwise they’ll find they’ve got someone knocking at the door saying “where’s the money?”,’ warned Francesca Lagerberg, head of the ICAEW’s Tax Faculty.

Instead of several warnings, individuals and companies will receive a single telephone call from their local tax office, after which they will be expected to pay their tax debts or face daily interest and penalties.

All tax debts accrued in 2002 will be subject to the stricter procedures, but older debts will not escape the harsher treatment – once the new system is in place, Revenue staff will be turning their attention to previous years’ tax bills.

‘People who have paid late in the past will be used to a very different, easy-going regime,’ Lagerberg said.

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