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HMRC turns to agencies on late payments

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is to run a six-month trial using debt collection agencies to chase late tax payments.

HMRC will be writing to both individuals and businesses informing them that they must settle any outstanding liabilities or a debt collection agency will be appointed to claim the funds.

A spokesperson for HMRC said that the pilot scheme will involve a range of tax debts of various sizes and ages.

The agencies will have the authority to contact debtors by letter and phone but will not be allowed to visit homes or conduct any litigation work.

HMRC argued that the scheme was being used to improve collection on behalf of taxpayers: “We retain a flexible approach on debts to ensure we get the best result for the taxpayer. Using private sector capacity has the potential to complement this approach.”

Worries that the safety of sensitive information about taxpayers could be jeopardised by the scheme were countered by HMRC.

Only limited details would be passed to the debt collection agencies, HMRC said, and steps would be taken to make sure that the security of taxpayers’ data remained paramount.