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Tax Collection

Volume 507: debated on Wednesday 17 March 2010

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what assessment he has made of the cost-effectiveness of recovering a debt in respect of which the due and payable date passed more than 12 months earlier; (317310)

(2) what the (a) age and (b) likelihood of recovery is of the debt owed to HM Revenue and Customs totalling more than £27 billion at 31 March 2009; and how much such debt has been outstanding (i) less than six months, (ii) between six and 12 months, (iii) between 12 months and two years, (iv) between two and three years and (v) for more than three years since the due and payable date;

(3) what recent assessment he has made of HM Revenue and Customs' performance in the recovery of taxes owed to the Government.

The Public Accounts Committee examined the Department in its 2009-10 report: ‘HM Revenue and Customs: Improving the Processing and Collection of Tax: Income Tax, Corporation Tax, Stamp Duty Land Tax and Tax Credits’ (HC 97) published on 10 December 2009 and available at:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmselect/cmpubacc/97/97.pdf

The Government will publish their responses to the Committee's report in a Treasury minute in due course.

The value and age of unpaid tax debts is shown on page 96 of HM Revenue and Customs' 2008-09 Trust Statement, available at:

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/about/hmrc-accs-0809.pdf

Other breakdowns of tax debt by age are available only at disproportionate cost, as HMRC's systems cannot readily produce these.