Wednesday, 8 September 2010
Banff & Buchan SNP MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford has warned that local taxpayers could be targeted by fraudsters after errors made by HM Revenue and Customs left up to six million people across the UK facing an unexpected tax bill.
The SNP has led demands in the House of Commons for action, and received an assurance from the Treasury that HMRC will only contact individuals affected by the tax code errors by letter and never by e-mail. Dr Whiteford is warning constituents that there could be an upsurge of scam e-mails seeking to take advantage of the errors.
It is understood that that 4.3 million taxpayers have paid too much, but 1.4 million have underpaid and will receive demands for the money before Christmas. The average amount of tax owed is £1,428.
Speaking from Westminster, Dr Whiteford said:
“As though these unexpected tax demands are not bad enough there are, regrettably, some very unscrupulous fraudsters out there who will try to cash-in.
“Local residents need to be alert to scam emails purporting to come from HMRC that offer ‘tax rebates’ in exchange for bank details.
“When the SNP raised this in Parliament the Treasury Minister confirmed that HMRC will not contact taxpayers affected by the blunder via e-mail or telephone, nor will they ask for bank details. Any local residents who are affected should be aware of this, and if anyone has any concerns I stand ready to pursue matters with the authorities on their behalf.
“This tax fiasco will cause real hardship for a great many households, through absolutely no fault of their own, and the Treasury must now make every effort to ensure that people are not exploited by fraudsters.”
The SNP were first to call for an emergency statement in the House of Commons over concerns about the general situation and demands for assurances over the scale of the error and repayments faced by millions of taxpayers.
SNP Westminster Treasury spokesperson Stewart Hosie MP said:
“Millions of taxpayers face the prospect of an unexpected tax bill through no fault of their own, and yet we have not had answers to the most basic of questions.
“We do yet have absolute certainty on how many people are affected or precisely how much money is involved. We must have clarity on the full extent of these errors, and assurances that taxpayers who face demands, particularly those whose financial circumstances have deteriorated, will not be hounded or face hardship through no fault of their own.
“We need to get the bottom of how and when this problem occurred, when Ministers knew about it, and what action they are taking. It is essential that taxpayers can have confidence in the PAYE system, and Ministers must now get a grip.
“It does seem that this was another mess made under the last Labour government, and it is yet another example of the financial disarray left by Gordon Brown’s administration.
“This whole debacle further underlines the need for Scotland to have control over taxation.”