In July, rules came into force designed to curb the worst excesses of the payday lending industry. In particular the FCA limited the ability of payday lenders to ‘roll over’ customers into new borrowing arrangements and constrained their usage of direct debits to raid customers bank accounts. Few objected to these measures. In particular, the habit of taking money from customers’ bank accounts without regard for any other financial commitments which they might have was considered quite shocking.
Strange then that such practices are not considered shocking when the government indulges in them. HM Revenue and Customs are now able to claim disputed tax up front and raid bank accounts to get it. In other words they take the money whether or not there is any challenge to or appeal against their decision. This is particularly alarming given the tax mans’ all too frequent displays of incompetence. Apparently, the average disputed tax bill is £5,800 and the revenue expect to recover around £100 million a year for the next 4 years, without allowing for successful challenges. In the great scheme of things, such draconian powers to recover a relatively small amount, seems like a case of using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.
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