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HMRC doubles use of external debt collectors

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HMRC has doubled its use of private sector bailiffs and debt collection agencies over the last two years as it takes more aggressive action to chase overdue tax, says national accountancy group UHY Hacker Young.

According to figures obtained by the group, HMRC spent £14.8m in 2013 on the use of private sector debt collectors, up 15% from £12.9m last year and more than twice the £6m spent on bailiffs in 2011. HMRC began using debt collection agencies in 2009 and now uses 13 companies in total.

Mark Giddens, head of private client services at UHY Hacker Young, said there is a concern that private sector debt collection agencies will be far more aggressive in pursuing overdue tax. The hard-line approach looks set to continue, especially if the proposed changes to allow access bank accounts to reclaim money come into effect.

‘There are real fears that these controversial changes could result in the wrong people being targeted. HMRC’s databases may not be fully up to date and money could be wrongly taken from accounts,’ Giddens added.