HMRC to text business owners tax reminders
Business owners may be contacted by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) on their mobile phones to ensure they pay their taxes on time, following the launch of a three-month pilot scheme.
HMRC will contact business owners either by text message or voicemail, to remind them about their tax obligations if a letter hasn’t triggered a response. For example, entrepreneurs might be contacted if they miss a deadline for their self-assessment form or if HMRC has a query about their returns.
“This is just a pilot scheme and it is a way of contacting people wherever they are if we haven’t had the response we need from them after sending out a letter,”
said HMRC spokesman Andrew Bennett.
“They would receive a letter in the first instance, and then if HMRC doesn’t get any response from that we will contact by text or by calling and leaving a voicemail.
“It may be that the person no longer resides at the same address, and if they have included their mobile number with their contact details we will try to reach them that way.”
HMRC has stressed that the text messages will not contain any personal information but will include a phone number for the recipient to call
“The message wouldn’t say ‘you owe HMRC x amount of pounds’. It might say ‘please contact HMRC on this number to discuss your tax affairs’. There will be no confidential data there.”
Accountancy firm PKF said business owners should not call HMRC back on the number provided unless they are sure it is genuine, as it could leave them open to fraud.
“We are urging individuals and businesses not to respond to any of these sorts of messages as it is just not safe,” said PKF director of personal tax Matt Coward. “If HMRC wants to try out these technologies, they should do it via an opt-in system and the messages should carry some sort of personalised accreditation so that taxpayers who have registered know they are genuine.”
For more information about the pilot scheme, visit the HMRC website.