Is the Activroll Case Another Example of HMRC Abusing Their Powers?

It appears that a successful Scotland-based payroll company, which describes itself as one of the country’s fastest growing businesses, has become the latest victim of HMRC’s aggressive collection procedures.

Last month, bosses at Activroll, which employs around 100 staff and has offices in the US and Australia, were shocked to discover a public notice in the Press and Journal newspaper revealing HMRC’s intention to shut their company down over an alleged £60,000 tax bill.

The UK Government tax collector claims to have issued a winding-up petition via a recorded-delivery letter, which Activroll say they didn’t receive.

Even more bizarrely, the firm’s global tax director, Graham McKechnie, says he never received a phone call or any further correspondence and insists HRMC has almost £300,000 of Activpayroll’s money sitting in another account.

If McKechnie is to be believed, the tax collector’s approach can only be described as tyrannical and arrogant.

While it is perfectly legal for HMRC to serve a winding up petition via a recoded- delivery letter, such a move is highly irregular. Winding Up Petitions are usually delivered in person to the registered office of the company by a process server.

HMRC is ultimately an agent of the taxpayer, but in this instance they don’t appear to be acting in the taxpayer’s interest, and there seems to be a lack of consideration for the human aspect of issues such as these.

Should these employees be deprived of their livelihood because of HMRC? I don’t think so. We’re talking about a £60,000 debt. That should be balanced against the livelihood of 100 employees who – along with their families – will be paying more than that amount and more in taxes.

When you commit a company into compulsory liquidation it doesn’t affect just the owner; it affects the employees, their families and the community where the business is based.

But more importantly, it would appear that HMRC are the biggest abusers of the insolvency procedures.

They issue far more winding up petitions than any other organisation and take up to half a day to go through their petitions in the company’s court. They use the courts to enforce debt collection, which is an abuse of the legal process.

This needs to be looked at changed.

If you’re struggling to meet your tax bills, contact Insolvency and Law now for free, confidential advice. Call 020 7504 1300