Previous Section Index Home Page

6 Feb 2007 : Column 910W—continued

Self-assessment Taxation

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many telephone calls HM Revenue and Customs has made chasing up self-assessment tax returns; how many staff are involved in such activity; at what cost; whether it is normal practice for calls to be made on a Sunday; how many people called had already returned their forms; and what system is used to inform telephonists of whether a tax payer has returned their tax return. [118612]

Dawn Primarolo: In the run up to the self- assessment deadline on 31 January 2007, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) ran a telephone campaign to help self-assessment customers comply with their statutory obligations and avoid penalties and interest charges.

853,158 customers were selected to receive an enabling telephone call to remind them that 31 January 2007 was the deadline for returning their 2005-06 self- assessment tax return and paying any money due.

These calls were made throughout the week, including the weekend (between 11:30 and 16:30) when some customers are more likely to be available.

Up to 200 staff have been involved in handling these calls at a cost of £350,000.

Data extracts taken from the self-assessment computer system just before the campaign started and some further data extracts taken during the campaign, were used to identify the customers to be telephoned.

Approximately 10 per cent. of customers contacted indicated that they had already submitted their returns during this self-assessment telephony reminder campaign.

Self-employed Taxpayers

Mr. Francois: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to his answer of 31 January 2007, Official Report, columns 344-45W, on self-employed taxpayers, what proportion of self-employed taxpayers' tax returns for 2004-05 in (a) the south east and (b) the UK were investigated. [119411]

Dawn Primarolo: Inquiries into the 2004-05 tax returns of self-employed taxpayers would have commenced during the 2005-06 tax year. Details of the national targets and achievements are contained in the HM Revenue and Customs Annual Report for 2005-06.

Separate figures for the south east are not kept and it would be disproportionately expensive to recover them.


6 Feb 2007 : Column 911W

Tax Credits

Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what progress has been made in implementing the recommendations made by the Parliamentary Ombudsman in her report “Tax Credits: Putting Things Right” (June 2005); whether the Government have (a) accepted and (b) implemented each recommendation; and if he will make a statement. [118841]

Dawn Primarolo: I refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply I gave him on 7 November 2006, Official Report column 1041W.

Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate his Department has made of the levels of (a) fraud, (b) customer error and (c) official error relating to tax credits in each year since 2001 in (i) percentage terms and (ii) cash terms; and if he will make a statement. [117936]

Dawn Primarolo: I refer the hon. Gentleman to the ‘Comptroller and Auditor General's Standard Report on the Accounts of the Inland Revenue 2002-03’ available at www.nao.org.uk and to the ‘Child and Working Tax Credits, Error and Fraud Statistics 2003-04’ available at www.hmrc.qov.uk. Estimates for future years will be published annually.

Amounts written off due to official error are included in the remissions figure in HMRCs accounts.

Alistair Burt: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will instruct Mr. Richard Summersgill, director of the Tax Credit Office, to take telephone calls from hon. and right hon. Members, and to respond personally to their letters. [119282]

Dawn Primarolo: The director of the Tax Credit Office (TCO) and his deputies are always ready to take personal calls from hon. and right hon. Members. TCO has no record of any such approaches.

TCO provides a hotline facility which hon. Members are encouraged to call to discuss matters relating to their constituents’ tax credits claims

Correspondence about constituents’ tax credits affairs are normally dealt with by technical experts who are best suited to deal with individual cases based in Liverpool, Belfast or Preston who usually respond directly to hon. Members.

Alistair Burt: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many inquiries the Tax Credit Hotline has received in each month since its inception. [119283]

Dawn Primarolo: For the number of calls answered by the Tax Credit Office MP Hotline up to the end of 2005 I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer I gave the hon. Member for St. Albans (Anne Main) on 21 March 2006, Official Report, column 348W. The MP hotline answered around 17,000 calls in 2006. Figures for January 2007 are not yet available.


6 Feb 2007 : Column 912W

Geraldine Smith: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people have received overpayments of tax credits in Morecambe and Lunesdale since the beginning of the scheme. [118017]

Dawn Primarolo: Estimates for 2003-04 and 2004-05 of the numbers of in-work families with tax credits awards, including information on overpayments and underpayments by constituency, based on final family circumstances and incomes for 2003-04 and 2004-05 are published in “Child and Working Tax Credits. Finalised Awards 2003-04 Geographical Analysis” and the “Child and Working Tax Credits. Finalised Awards 2004-05 Geographical Analysis”. These publications and provisional estimates for the number of in-work families by constituency with tax credit awards as at selected dates in 2005-06 are available on the HMRC website at:

Information on number of in-work families, with overpayments in 2005-06 will not be available until May 2007, after circumstances and incomes have been finalised.

Mr. Betts: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what his policy is on recovering tax credit overpayments from individuals and households who are no longer in receipt of credits when the overpayment is identified; and if he will make a statement. [118636]

Dawn Primarolo: HMRC’s policy on tax credit overpayments is set out in their code of practice 26 “What happens if we have paid you too much tax credit?”

Tax Returns

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the estimated cost is of filling out a tax return; and what estimate he has made of (a) how many people pay accountants to do this for them and (b) how much they pay for this service. [118716]

Dawn Primarolo: No data are held on the financial cost of completing a self-assessment tax return. The latest data available (2003) on the time taken to complete a tax return is as follows:

Hours unrepresented Hours represented

Employees

2.25

2.02

Self-employed

3.02

2.27


The majority of self-assessment customers are represented by agents who may range from professional tax agents to helpful relatives.

2006-07 Agent No agent Total

Individual

4,521,689

4,012,395

8,534,084

Partnership

308,318

227,256

535,574

Trust

93,872

204,787

298,659

Total

4,923,879

4,444,438

9,368,317


No data are held on the fees paid by customers to professional agents for the completion of self-assessment tax returns.


6 Feb 2007 : Column 913W

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people who submitted tax returns in the last period for which figures are available earned (a) under £20,000, (b) under £32,500, (c) under £50,000, (d) under £75,000, (e) under £100,000, (f) under £150,000 and (g) over £250,000. [118717]

Dawn Primarolo: Estimates for the number of individuals that submitted tax returns for 2004-05 are given in the following table.

Range of earned income Number of individuals (thousand)

No earned income

765

£1 to £4,744

1,550

£4,745 to £19,999

3,580

£20,000 to £32,499

1,250

£32,500 to £49,999

859

£50,000 to £74,999

453

£75,000 to £99,999

183

£100,000 to £149,999

170

£150,000 to £249,999

92

£250,000 and over

59

All ranges

8,960

Notes:
1. These estimates are from the Survey of Personal Incomes 2004-05 and are the latest available.
2. Earned income is defined as income from employment, self-employment and pensions.
3. Numbers are given to three significant figures and may not sum to the total due to rounding.

Mr. Francois: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the average time was between the receipt of a tax return and the commencement of an
6 Feb 2007 : Column 914W
HM Revenue and Customs inquiry in the latest period for which figures are available. [119413]

Dawn Primarolo: HM Revenue and Customs does not keep a separate record of the time between the receipt of a return and the commencement of an inquiry. It would be disproportionately expensive to recover it.

Taxation: Aviation

Mr. Jack: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list the legislation used to give legal effect to the change in air passenger duty from 1 February 2007. [119029]

John Healey: The change will be enacted using the normal process for Finance Bills, including through the use of powers granted by the Provisional Collection of Taxes Act 1968.

VAT: Fraud

Mr. Godsiff: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the level of UK carousel VAT fraud in (a) 2006-07 and (b) the most recent two previous years for which data are available. [119199]

Dawn Primarolo: HMRC published annual estimates of the level of MTIC fraud alongside PBR 2006 in “Measuring Indirect Tax Losses—2006”, which is available from the House of Commons Library or from the HMRC website.

No estimate has yet been produced for 2006-07, though operational indicators suggest that MTIC fraud activity has fallen sharply during the year.


    Index Home Page