A committee of MPs has raised concerns at proposed new powers to allow HMRC to take payment directly from individuals’ bank accounts.
The Treasury Select Committee fear that the new tax collection powers, put forward in George Osborne’s recent Budget, could leave thousands of people open to error and fraud.
In a statement, the committee said: “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.”
“Incorrectly collecting money will result in serious detriment to taxpayers. The government must consider safeguards, in addition to those set out in the consultation document, to ensure that HMRC cannot act erroneously with impunity. These might include the award of damages in addition to compensation, and disciplinary action in cases of abuse of the power.”
It added: “The ability directly to have access to millions of taxpayers’ bank accounts raises concerns about the risk of fraud and error, and this should also be covered by the consultation.”
Around 17,000 a year people could be affected by the new tax collection powers, which are expected to raise around £100m a year.
The Treasury insists there are sufficient safeguards as HMRC will only be able to remove the money after four ignored requests for the tax, the money due is more than £1,000 and only if there is £5,000 in the account afterwards.