TAX officials are “bullying” in-debt callers into paying more upfront than they need.
Customers including the self-employed are often bamboozled by the complicated tax system and fall behind.
HMRC’s ‘bullying’ tactics are displayed on call centre screens
Under a deliberately misleading policy, officials refuse to mention the minimum amount they would accept to set up instalment plans for outstanding tax bills.
Instead they suggest sums that might be more than the hard-up caller can afford.
Patrick Sullivan, of the Parliament Street think tank, said: “Once again bullying tax chiefs are raking in cash from those who are struggling the most.
“All staff should be instructed to give honest advice in the best interests of the taxpayer.”
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John O’Connell, of the Tax-Payers’ Alliance, said: “A twisted and complicated tax system means people sometimes fail to make payments, especially the self-employed. Staff must not force people into doing something they don’t need to.”
The tactics, understood to have been introduced last month, are displayed on call centre screens.
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The Sun SaysTHE taxman is rarely popular but his latest wheeze is nothing short of scandalous.
Honest taxpayers who have made mistakes — often through no fault of their own — should be given the chance to pay what they owe, when they can. Misleading them into paying back over the odds is beyond the pale.
It’s the latest in a series of damning signs that HMRC is falling apart. And it suggests their priorities are out of whack, too.
When are they going to tackle the multinationals who have run rings around them for years?
The “hints and tips” on “maximising” payments include challenging “the customer’s offer, even if the initial offer meets our expectations”.
A report in December rapped tax bosses for failing to consider if taxpayers were treated fairly.
HMRC said: “We are supportive to taxpayers with debts, especially vulnerable customers, and continuously review guidance.”
Treasury Minister John Glen advises that now is the perfect time to start saving