HMRC targets ‘late’ taxpayers with text message warnings

UK taxpayers and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) have reported that they have been receiving ‘threatening’ text messages from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

According to reports, the tax authority has been using new means to inform business and individual taxpayers that they are being ‘monitored’ – and to request that they pay debts.

A study has revealed that the text messages are successfully increasing payment rates among ‘late-payers’.

According to an HMRC report, text messages warning taxpayers that they ‘may face penalties’ for late payments have increased payment rates by 7 per cent, whereas those informing taxpayers that they are being ‘monitored’ have raised payment rates by 3.8 per cent.

Furthermore, the number of ‘late-payers’ hitting their payment deadlines after receiving these, or other HMRC text messages (for which there are many formats), has increased by 50 per cent, according to the tax authority.

However, the news comes at a confusing time, after UK crime watchdog Action Fraud reported a rise in complaints of ‘bogus’ telephone calls, text messages and emails from fraudsters purporting to be from HMRC, and requesting similar action.

A police spokesperson told Action Fraud: “Fraudsters will use various hoaxes to try and scam money out of people so please be vigilant about any unsolicited phone call – remember that the bank or police or HMRC would never ask you for your PIN over the phone or send a courier to collect cards or cash”.