There is a growing trend of HMRC paying back taxpayers funds they never actually owed with figures showing half a billion pounds has been paid back to people who wrongly paid the "emergency tax" on a pension withdrawal over the last three years. Former pensions minister Steve Webb says HMRC now has a "tax first, ask questions later" policy while Nimesh Shah of Blick Rothenberg states that the situation is designed to boost government coffers at the expense of taxpayers. Another area of concern is the additional 3% stamp duty surcharge on additional property purchases which must be paid upfront, catching out many regular home movers who have to claim a refund. An HMRC spokesman said: "We do everything we can to make sure the correct tax is paid so taxpayers are not hit with unexpected tax bills later on. We are committed to making any repayments as fast as we can. Tax refunds from pension flexibility and stamp duty are generally received within a few weeks of the claim."