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Why I'm out to make the tax man pay

By Cairan McGuigan

Published 25/02/2007

An accountant who was on the brink of bankruptcy at the hands of the tax man has accused the Inland Revenue of using courts a "debt recovery agency" .

Maurice Laverty (main picture) of DML Turgot had a bankruptcy order rescinded in the High Court earlier this month when he settled a disputed tax bill. The Co Antrim accountant - a former director of Coleraine FC - handed over around £13,000 to settle the disputed PAYE bill that the Inland Revenue raised a bankruptcy petition over.

He has since lodged complaints with the Inland Revenue, the Official Receivers Office and Paymaster General Dawn Primarolo about the conduct of his case, which could have put him out of business and seen him booted out of his professional organisation.

Dr Laverty had been disputing the original £26,000 bill, insisting he only owed the revenue about half that.

"We had the money to pay the outstanding debt but we were awaiting the proper figure to pay - I was waiting for the amended petition and I would have paid," he said.

"But they are just using the court as a debt collection agency. The thing is that you pay all they demand and then try to claim it back.

"I tried to do it the other way around and look what happened. I have seen clients in the same position.

"Because they are using the courts as a debt collection agency, they are saying 'pay up', whether you owe the money or not, because if you don't pay you are bankrupt."

A HMRC spokesman said: "I am unable to comment on his individual circumstances."

HMRC raised a petition against Dr Laverty for outstanding PAYE contributions over a number of years in October last year. A bankruptcy order was made last month, but later rescinded.

The original amount in the petition was almost £26,000, but the finally agreed figure fell to around £13,000.

Dr Laverty dismissed "wild" speculation that the outstanding money had topped £100,000.

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