New powers allowing Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to seize funds directly from bank accounts – so-called ‘Direct Recovery of Debt’ powers – are flawed in both practice and principle.
The basic mechanism of the legislation allows HMRC to place “hold notices” – essentially, to freeze all but £5,000 of an individual’s assets – if it “appears” that there is a debt to the Revenue. If there is no objection to the hold notice within the requisite period or an appeal has been dismissed, HMRC may then issue a “deduction notice” and oblige the bank to transfer the funds it requires.
However, this report shows that such powers would fly directly in the face of the principles of Magna Carta, property rights and due process.
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