HMRC’s controversial new powers, which allow them to drain the bank account of tax debtors without their knowledge, could be extended to other public sector bodies if they prove successful in reclaiming owed tax revenue.
Speaking before the Treasury Select Committee, HMRC’s Chief Executive Ms Homer suggested that the new powers granted by Chancellor George Osborne at the 2014 Budget (called Direct Recovery of Debts, or DRD) could eventually be extended to other Government or public bodies.
John Thurso, Liberal Democrat MP for for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross asked Homer:
“If an organ of the state called HMRC should have the right of direct access to a bank account, why should a council not have the same role? Or the DVLA for tax that’s due on cars? Or the television licensing authority for television licensing?”
To which Homer replied:
“If we are given the go-ahead to proceed and it is done well, Parliament watches us and sees some of your concerns are resolved, I could imagine a debate will follow.”
The HMRC boss also sought to assuage fears that the DRD powers were in breach of the Magna Carta, likening them to conventional PAYE taxes.
Homer was also grilled about a £1.9 billion reporting error which wiped out HMRC’s tax avoidance revenue for the 2011/12 tax year. She apologised to the assembled Committee and said HMRC “might have hoped between us all we would have spotted it at the time.”
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