Britain shows where advanced bureaucracy leads

Pay or we'll raid your home, taxman tells 95-year-old widow (and they owe HER money). It was only intervention by a newspaper that saved her

HM Revenue & Customs debt collectors have threatened to visit the home of a frail 95-year-old widow and confiscate her possessions, even though she has paid too much tax.

This shocking threat was made in a letter that arrived on Saturday, just three days after HMRC chiefs had been hauled before a committee of MPs to explain the chaos that has engulfed millions of taxpayers.

The letter warned: 'We are arranging a visit to your house. We will view your possessions and list those that we will sell at auction. We strongly advise you to avoid this as it will cost you much more to pay this way and can be embarrassing.'

The letter was received by Beryl Frew, whom Money Mail featured in January. Mrs Frew has failing eyesight and hearing, and needs daily medication for her blood pressure.

HMRC sent her a bill for £3,946.27 after she became confused by complex tax forms. We asked the charity Tax Help For Older People to look at her case. After examining her records it emerged that she has in fact paid more than £380 too much tax.

HMRC agreed with these figures. But in another staggering example of incompetence it failed to tell its debt management section, which issued the threatening letter. A spokesman says: ' We apologise to Mrs Frew for the distress caused. The letter was issued in error and we are urgently looking into how this happened. We will be contacting Mrs Frew to apologise and put her mind at rest.'

Following our intervention, HMRC has promised the pensioner will not be visited by debt collectors.

Mrs Frew's family knew the tax bill was wrong, but like tens of thousands of others, faced frustration in getting it resolved.

Much more HERE

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