Making Tax Digital for VAT (Economic Affairs Committee Report) - Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:55 pm on 29th April 2019.

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Photo of Lord Young of Cookham Lord Young of Cookham Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip), Lords Spokesperson (Cabinet Office) 4:55 pm, 29th April 2019

The safest thing I can do is repeat what I just said: HMRC will seek to collect the loan charge from employers in the first instance, and will pursue individuals for the tax due only where it cannot reasonably do so from the employer; for example, if the employer is no longer in existence or is offshore. The BBC is still there and is not offshore, as are the other employers mentioned by the noble Baroness, so HMRC will indeed seek reimbursement from them first, before it seeks to collect the liability from the individual. By the end of 2018, about 85% of the yield in advance of the charge was from settlements with employers. Since the 2016 Budget announcement, around 6,000 have agreed settlement, raising £1 billion for the Exchequer. These numbers will continue to increase as more settlements are agreed.

The Government recognise the impact of this legislation on the individuals affected and the importance of them receiving appropriate support. Some individuals are facing large tax bills, often as a result of using these schemes over a number of years or receiving large sums through the schemes. That is why the best thing for anyone concerned about paying what they owe is to get in touch with HMRC, which is expanding its specialist service for customers with additional needs to help them meet their obligations. HMRC has a good track record of supporting customers to pay their tax debts and has made it clear that it will not force anyone to sell their main home to pay their disguised remuneration debts. It does not want to make anyone bankrupt; insolvency is considered only as a last resort and few cases ever reach that stage. HMRC is determined to work with individuals to reach manageable, sustainable payment plans wherever possible.

My noble friend Lord Forsyth spoke about suicides and my noble friend Lady Noakes about the Samaritans. HMRC has been informed that a customer who had used DR schemes has taken their own life. Out of respect, and given HMRC’s duty of taxpayer confidentiality, the Government are not in position to comment further, but we continue to improve support to vulnerable customers and will extend HMRC’s valued needs enhanced support service to customers undergoing compliance checks. HMRC works alongside the voluntary and community sector to improve its support and to ensure that vulnerable customers receive adequate support beyond getting their tax affairs right.