Political madness – or is it? As huge debts remain uncollected, HMRC scrutinises compulsory returns from pensioners with modest incomes.

News from a reader in her seventies with income from pensions and savings below the national average, after tax has been deducted, prompted a search of collected data and online reports.

hmrc pensionersHer equally baffled MP had forwarded her case in 2008 to the Treasury Committee and the chairman’s assistant replied: “The issue you describe does seem confusing” and undertook to draw it to the attention of the committee before taking evidence from HMRC in autumn.

Needless to say HMRC compels her to continue, despite having all the information in their departments, which are said to be unable to share it, one officer saying angrily: “Why don’t you employ an accountant?”

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, the Independent reported that Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs have caught only five of thirty people, some owing hundreds of thousands of pounds – and many owing millions – identified as costing the UK more than £844m.

Strangely, the government has been reducing staff and budget from this revenue-collecting department, despite concerns ant the shortfall in income due. A few examples follow:

hmrc staff shortfall poster2004: 15,000 jobs cut since March 2004 with 165 offices earmarked for closure or in the process of closing.

2008: closure of a further 95 offices across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland affecting up to 12,300 staff.

2010: the Public and Commercial Services Union warn that a decision by Revenue & Customs to close 130 offices would cause job losses, undermine tax collection and hit advice and support to taxpayers.

2014: the end for all 281 walk-in tax enquiry centres, with a further 23 large sites across the UK facing imminent closure. More than 2,000 fixed-term workers compulsorily redundant despite its own business plan revealing a staffing shortfall (staff levels decline, page 16, below):

HMRC staffing levels chart

The Public and Commercial Services Union criticises HMRC’s intention to privatise more of its debt collection and post handling, reporting huge backlogs of post and private debt collectors already being brought in to chase up tax credits overpayments.

Perhaps this apparent inefficiency and inconsistency is not political madness, but the outworking of a hidden agenda, with privatisation as the objective.

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Posted on August 30, 2014, in Civil servants, Democracy undermined, Government, Parliamentary failure, Planning, Taxpayers' money and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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