Legal action threat over 5p tax demand

A COUPLE have been left flabbergasted at what unfolded after they received a letter threatening legal action if a debt of five pence was not paid within 14 days. Andrew Makins, of Wildwood Lane in Stevenage, received the letter from HM Revenue & Customs f

A COUPLE have been left flabbergasted at what unfolded after they received a letter threatening legal action if a debt of five pence was not paid within 14 days.

Andrew Makins, of Wildwood Lane in Stevenage, received the letter from HM Revenue & Customs following a recent change to his tax code.

The tax collector's letter said that if payment of five pence was not made promptly, action would be taken. "This means that I will seize your possessions and later arrange to have them sold at public auction," the tax collector wrote. "The proceeds from the sale will be set against the debt and the costs of the action.

"If you believe there are reasons why I should not proceed, please telephone."

But when Mr Makins made the call, he was asked to settle the bill by paying the measly amount over the phone.

When he told his wife, Jacqueline, what had happened, she was shocked.

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"I couldn't believe it," she said. "I had expected them to say 'don't worry', but they made him pay."

She said the cost of the second class stamp to send the letter, together with the fee charged to HM Revenue & Customs by the bank for processing the card payment, will have been far greater than the five pence the Government department recouped.

The Stevenage HM Revenue & Customs office is in Southgate House in Southgate. "Andrew actually went in there and settled the original bill," Mrs Makins said, "so it's their fault if five pence was left on the account anyway.

"Our point is not the fact that this letter was sent out, but that on phoning to advise them of this they actually took my husband's card details to settle the outstanding amount."

Cliff Hathaway, spokesman for HM Revenue & Customs, said: "For confidentiality purposes, we can't discuss individual records.

"However, we apologise and will thoroughly investigate and make sure it doesn't happen again.

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