HMRC texts warnings to taxpayers
HMRC has started to send out text messages to taxpayers warning that they are being "monitored" to ensure they pay on time. More than 13,000 self-assessment taxpayers have taken part in trials which have seen them sent SMS messages. The taxpayers, who had previously been contacted by HMRC about their debt, received three types of message from the Government"s "Nudge" unit or Behavioural Insights Team. The ‘standard" SMS message alerted the recipient to the debt and told them how to pay, while the "monitoring" message pointed out that HMRC would be monitoring whether the debt was paid in the following week. The ‘penalties" message included the phrase, "Most people pay on time to avoid penalties". HMRC reported that sending out the "monitoring" message raised payment rates by 3.8 percentage points, and the "penalties" message by 7 percentage points, or 20% in relative terms. The Revenue says it has gained an extra £210m from taxpayers by using ‘nudge’ tactics that predict how people will respond to official communications and encourage them to make the ‘right’ response. However, Anita Monteith, senior tax policy adviser at the ICAEW, warned that ordinary taxpayers could become needlessly alarmed by the messages.
Source: The Daily Telegraph (15/09/2016)