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HMRC eases debt-collection tactics

20-01-2021

HMRC has stopped using debt collectors and threatening repossessions during the pandemic, reports the Times, with officials also suspending the use of “field force collectors” until the end of the lockdown. HMRC has confirmed its policy had changed, saying: “We are currently not contacting customers with tax debts via debt collection agencies.” It added that it is “focusing on customers who contact us for further support” in order to “understand their circumstances and work with them to find an affordable way forward”. The Times previously reported enforcement tactics it deemed questionable, with the tax office subsequently issuing apologies for letters accusing people of deliberately not repaying debts, saying the content was a “mistake” that did not reflect its current approach to debt collection. A Times editorial welcomes HMRC’s shift in stance and says that as the self-assessment returns deadline looms, HMRC should “show it has learned the lessons of this unedifying episode” by showing understanding in regard to challenges faced by small-business owners and the self-employed.

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