This week, HMRC are seeking new powers to access individuals’ bank accounts and statements in order to recover unpaid taxes. If passed, this would give HMRC unprecedented powers to access a person’s bank statements and take money directly from their bank account.
OnePoll questioned 1000 UK Brits about this and over half weren’t even aware of this proposal (55%).
Accessing Bank Accounts: Against
Over half of UK Brits also said it was unjustifiable to allow HMRC to seize money directly from people’s bank accounts (52%).
54% of the self-employed said this was not justifiable but 34% of retired people said it was.
A huge 70% of Brits said they don’t trust HMRC to not make mistakes with this new power and 68% were concerned that if money was taken in error, it would take a very long time to get back.
Other concerns included:
- Seizure of goods, property and money must only be allowed by a court and a jury.
- Nobody should be allowed to get into another person’s bank account
- We can’t take our money directly back if they take it in error
Accessing Bank Accounts: For
Although clearly a controversial proposal, some Brits actually think this new power is justifiable (29%).
83% of those in favour of this new power agreed that if people owe tax and are refusing to pay, then they should have it taken and that everyone should pay their fair amount of tax (64%). A further 61% also said it could discourage tax evasion, another hot topic in this week’s news.
A further 51% of those who are in favour said it’s justifiable because it will only be used on those who refuse to pay their tax, however 48% of those not in favour said they believe HMRC would abuse this new power.
There was also much opposition to the idea of HMRC being able to access 12 months of an individual’s bank details.
Of those against this, 85% said it was an invasion of privacy and using ‘Big Brother’ tactics (65%).
The problems with HMRC…
Most of the objections centre on the concern that HMRC are prone to making mistakes.
27% of UK Brits have said they have had a problem when dealing with HMRC.
60% said they have been given the wrong tax code before and 53% said they have had too much money taken from their pay cheque.
Other problems included:
- Difficulty in getting repayment of wrongly taken tax
- Tried to tax me for income that didn’t exist due to confusing me with someone else.
- Heavy fine for late payment when not my fault
Many complaints are also made about their telephone service. Of those who have had to phone HMRC before have waited on hold for an average of 17 minutes before getting through to an advisor.
OnePoll asked respondents how they thought HMRC could be improved and here are some of their suggestions:
- Freephone numbers
- Re-establish the local tax offices so people can speak to a person, in person
- Mistakes should be rectified within 5 working days
- Close tax avoidance loopholes
- The tax system itself needs to be drastically simplified
- Allow more to be done online
- Scrap it