Readers split over HMRC’s mooted increased powers

THE PROPOSED increased range of powers set to be afforded to HM Revenue & Customs has left Accountancy Age readers split over whether they can be justified.

Of the 108 readers polled, marginally more – 51% – felt the significantly broader set of powers that have been proposed since the new year were justified, with the remaining 49% troubled by the developments.

The taxman has been steadily building its arsenal since the new year. Avoidance schemes that bear similarities to others already blocked, will be forced to pay the disputed tax up front before the case is heard at tribunal, under plans due to come into force in November.

In the Budget, the chancellor then announced a consultation on proposals that would allow HMRC to directly access debtors’ bank accounts to deduct tax due – provided £5,000 is left across the accounts.

This month, George Osborne followed that up by releasing a document, No Safe Havens, outlining plans to introduce a new criminal offence carrying a possible prison sentence for people holding undeclared money offshore, even if they did not intend to evade taxes.

And this week HMRC was criticised over suggestions it could sell “anonymised” taxpayer data to third parties including private companies, researchers and public bodies.

Former Conservative minister David Davis told the Guardian the plans were “borderline insane”.

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