The Treasury select committee has warned the Government that allowing HM Revenue & Customs to recover debts from people’s bank accounts would be “wholly unacceptable” without prior independent oversight.
Last week, HMRC published its consultation on the direct recovery of debts power set out in the Budget. It proposes allowing the Revenue to recover debts of over £1,000 directly from bank accounts, including Isas, as long as at least £5,000 is left in the account.
In its report on the Budget, published this morning, the committee says the proposal is of “considerable concern”and that it intends to investigate it further.
It says: “The Chancellor argues this measure can be justified because the Department for Work and Pensions already has the right to take money directly from people’s bank accounts to pay child maintenance. However, the parallel is not exact: in those cases, DWP is acting as an intermediary between two individuals.
“HMRC would be acting not as an intermediary between two individuals but rather in pursuit of its own objective of bringing in revenue for the Exchequer.”
MPs also say the increased flexibility to savings brought about by changes announced in the Budget to pensions and Isas will mean the two will become “increasingly interchangable”, and so the Government should set out details on how it intends to tax savings in the future.
TSC chair Andrew Tyrie says: “There may be scope in the long term for bringing the tax treatment of savings and pensions together to create a ‘single savings’ vehicle that can be used—with additions and withdrawals—throughout working life and retirement. This would be a great prize.
“For too long, double taxation has discouraged some forms of saving.”