MPs Uncomfortable with HMRC’s Debt Recovery Powers

Treasury Select CommitteeThe recently-expanded set of powers afforded to HMRC for the recovery of debt has raised concerns among Treasury Select Committee MPs. The committee expressed especial concern over the possibility of mistakes being made in the process, pointing to a history of past errors by the department.

The budget in March saw a “modern” set of debt recovery powers proposed by the chancellor. Most notably, and controversially, this included the ability to recover debts directly from bank accounts, including ISAs. The policies would target those who owe £1,000 or more and have already been “contacted multiple times” about the debt.

According to Andrew Tyrie, chairman of the Treasury Select Committee: “This policy is highly dependent on HMRC’s ability accurately to determine which taxpayers owe money and what amounts they owe, an ability not always demonstrated in the past.”

The committee concluded that “Giving HMRC this power without some form of prior independent oversight… would be wholly unacceptable.”