Monday 20 January 2014 12:08 am

HMRC sets new record for asset seizures from self-employed

HM Revenues and Customs set a new high of 1,488 asset seizures over the last year from self-assessed taxpayers who could not pay bills. Tax officials took a harder line than ever, said finance firm Syscap, adding that the majority facing penalties were self-employed professionals such as accountants and solicitors. HMRC increased the use of its power of “distraint” against self-assessment tax debts by eight per cent from the 1,376 cases in 2011-2012. The tally more than doubles the 730 seizures of 2010-2011. HMRC’s powers of distraint means staff can visit premises without warning to collect unpaid taxes and, if still not paid in five days, can sell business assets. With the 31 January tax deadline looming, businesses have been warned to find funding as HMRC is less likely to give firms extra time, as it did during the recession.