Tax Health Plan helplines were “overloaded”

ONLY ONE PERSON was on a helpline set up by the taxman to deal with letters sent out to doctors and dentists as part of the second phase of the Tax Health Plan (THP) , Accountancy Age understands.

The THP offered a tax disclosure agreement to medics last year. The new letters, dated 10 June, announce that “the second phase of THP is happening now”. In the correspondence, HM Revenue & Customs says it is “following up those who did not disclose or where there is concern around their compliance”.

The doctors who have been contacted have been told: “A contributing factor to my current opinion of your compliance being doubtful is the fact that information held by HMRC indicates that you have been in receipt of income but that you have not submitted details of tax returns to tell us of this fact.”

The letters warn that the recipients may be “referred to Criminal Investigations with a view to prosecution”. The medics are told to contact the helpline within 21 days.

However, Guy Smith, senior tax consultant at insurance protection firm Abbey Tax, said that agents have said they are not receiving these letters and they seem to have been sent out in bulk.

Advisors have told him that they were trying to get through to the helplines, but were told that between 100 to 200 people were receiving this letter at the same time. The helpline was due to be staffed by two people, but one had called in sick.

Smith said that HMRC was being “underhand” in not sending the letters to advisors. “The letters are almost threatening the doctors and not getting the agents involved,” Smith said. “The agents I spoke to are saying they have not seen the letters.”

A HMRC spokesman said: “No THP letters have been sent in bulk by error – customers with similar risk of non-declaration will receive similar letters.

“HMRC have an obligation to ensure that the right amount of tax is paid, and always said we would check disclosures and contact customers where inconsistencies are found, as well as writing to those that we believe should have come forward under the preferential terms. Letters have been sent to individuals where it is right to do so, and some customers have already responded to put matters right.”

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