Continuing controversy over use of APNs

New statistics issued by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) revealed that 10,000 people have already been issued with accelerated payment notices (APN).

The annual report for 2014/15 shows that tax officials have made ample use of the controversial powers, which allow the authority to make taxpayers hand over disputed sums in advance of a tax tribunal.

It was expected that the accelerated payment rules would bring in £210million by March 2015, but in fact HMRC has received more than double this amount.

Around £596million was received from individuals and businesses who received APNs.

Although £28million was subsequently refunded following legal challenges, HMRC still gained a net £568million.

In total, the tax authority expects to issue 64,000 APNs, in spite of continuing controversy about the number which are being sent out by mistake.

Last month, the Financial Times spoke to legal experts who said that scores of notices had been dispatched to people who owed far smaller amounts of money than was claimed.

In other cases, HMRC had got it “spectacularly wrong” and dispatched APNs to those who owed nothing at all.

In a further blow to the tax authority, the report also revealed that almost 90 per cent of complaints made to the adjudicator about HMRC were upheld in part or in full.

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