Proposed plans outlined in the 2014 budget which would allow HMRC to raid bank accounts for tax debt collection have been criticised as ‘seriously draconian’ by accountancy body, ACCA.

The plans would give the tax authority the ability to forcibly seize assets from any individual who owes more than £1,000 in tax or tax credits.

The ACCA said that it was unwise to give HMRC such powers due to their bad track record of making mistakes.

A spokesperson for HMRC said that there would be lots of checks and balances in place to prevent these new powers from being exploited, including the provision that the debtor would have to be contacted ‘several’ times before seizure. The debtor would also have to be left with a minimum of £5,000 in their account.

However, critics say that this is not good enough and does not take into account the need for debtors to prioritise payments.

Anthony Thomas, Chairman of the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group, said:

“To let HMRC raid their bank accounts without safeguards or recourse to the courts – or with inadequate safeguards – would be to flout the rule of law in a manner unworthy of a public service body. It is not the same as seizing physical goods, it is depriving the debtor of the very means to live.”

Photo by Steve Rotman