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Legal powers are being used increasingly, to collect tax bills that remain unpaid in Scotland, according to McGrigors law firm. The Freedom of Information Act was utilised by McGrigors to obtain details of bankruptcy petitions and winding up orders filed by HMRC.

The number of bankruptcy petitions filed by the tax officials in Scotland rose by 97 percent during a period of three years. Winding up orders filed against businesses also rose by 75 percent. The figures for England and Wales revealed a fall in the use of comparable powers in the same three year period.

According to Pamela Muir, speaking on behalf of McGrigors, the figures show that HMRC is changing its attitude towards collection of unpaid bills, becoming increasingly tougher. She said:

“During the downturn there was a high level of support for business, but the taxman seems to be running out of patience with those who are unable or unwilling to settle their unpaid tax bills.”

Ms Muir also concedes that the differing attitude between England and Scotland could possibly be attributed to a greater display of leniency towards Scottish businesses during the downturn. Although a large number of businesses were given extra time to pay their bills, the tax officials are now catching up with companies to collect what’s due, and have made it clear that no second chances will be given. Ms Muir acknowledges that the petitions for bankruptcy were likely to be used by HMRC to encourage debtors to discuss their affairs with HMRC, rather than force them into bankruptcy.

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