Agent pursued by HMRC over £120 bill he keeps trying to pay is threatened with criminal prosecution and closure

An estate agent is being pursued by HMRC over an anti-money laundering bill for £120 and threatened with criminal prosecution and being put out of business.

However, Chris Willey, of Wilsons in Taunton, Somerset, says he has tried repeatedly to make the payment, following the instructions given to him in the letter, but says that HMRC’s own system will not let him.

Instead it tells him that he owes £230 – although he says this was paid last April.

Willey has also tried repeatedly to call HMRC on the phone number given but says that this simply rings and rings but is not answered.

He has also left a message on the site, urgently requesting help. A response said someone would get to him in two days, but so far he has heard nothing. He has even sent HMRC payment by cheque – the cheque was returned to him.

In desperation, he sent a letter by recorded delivery last Friday explaining: “I wish to comply with payment of the requested £120 as a matter of urgency but my AMLS account will not allow me to.

“When I try to make this payment the account tells me to pay not £120 but £230. I paid this to you on 9th April 2018.

“You advise that if this payment is not made, serious action may be taken against me.

“Something is wrong with your system and it is no fault of mine.

“Please help, this is extremely worrying.”

The letter from HMRC, dated August 31, gave Willey seven days to pay the £120, to cover outstanding approval check fees, payable at £40 per person with AML responsibilities.

The letter gives detailed instructions as to how to make the payment, and warns that if he fails to make the payment within seven days, there will be severe consequences.

It spells these out: Any new applications for AML registration will be refused; an existing registration will be revoked; and Willey is warned that if the business continues to operation without registration, he will be trading illegally and will be liable to a penalty and/or possible criminal prosecution.

The letter is signed by Jan Pond, head of anti-money laundering supervision and remote compliance at HMRC.

This is not the first time that agents have complained about the AML admin system operating at HMRC.

In March, numbers of agents told EYE of their difficulties in registering by the April 1 deadline, reporting problem after problem.

EYE was at the time in regular touch with HMRC through its press office, passing on our readers’ concerns.

Yesterday, we approached the press office again, regarding the latest case.

However, both the press officers we dealt with previously have now left.

We spoke at length to a member of the team about the case and left a message for the press officer who looks to be in charge of the AML brief. We emphasised that on behalf of our reader, this was an urgent case, and were assured that we would receive at least one phone call – but we have so far heard nothing back.

However, as we will be reporting tomorrow, once we did manage to contact the right press officer this morning after this story appeared, it is fair to say we had a very helpful response.

Meanwhile, Willey’s seven-day deadline has expired.

EYE would again be very interested to hear if other agents trying to comply with their AML requirements are having problems with HMRC.

If you are having difficulties, please post below or, if you would prefer, email ros@propertyindustryeye.com

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17 Comments

  1. hertsagent13

    The system is a farse and no one is ever available to help. I’ve had to re-register twice now through no fault of my own!

    Report
  2. JW

    We’ve been told there is a back-log of at least 9 months.

    Report
  3. OnlineEA

    Everything to do with AML and the HMRC is a joke. Absolute mess, none of my logins worked, had to wait ages for new login details to be posted and then once reregistered, didn’t work! Useless.

    Report
  4. simpletruth47

    Er – send a cheque?

    registered post?

     

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    1. Property Pundit

      Maybe read the 5th paragraph?

      Report
  5. surrey1

    I’ve had personal tax dealings with HMRC that would make you weep with frustration. Chum of mine in larger corporate IT infrastructure described their system as “40 years old with a bit of lipstick on the front”. Totally unfit for purpose.

    Report
  6. Sally Jones

    We’re experiencing the same problem. We have been requesting the online log in details since February and after numerous emails back back and forth and being promised our request will be dealt with soon, we have heard nothing. In fact, they are now no longer responding to any emails from me at all!!

    No doubt when our fee is due again we will start to receive threatening letters from them . . . it’s a bloody joke!!!!

    Report
  7. Property Poke In The Eye

    HMRC system is a joke.  I also gave up.  Will deal with the consequences as and when they arise.

     

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  8. blackberry

    Exact same problem for us.

    Report
  9. mail@ms-estates.co.uk

    we had issues and ended up paying twice but when I log on it still says application pending. very frustrating.

    Report
  10. Mark Walker

    I was going to chip in that this is not unheard of, but here we are.

    Report
  11. DASH94

    We’ve just renewed, but the links on the renewal email that they send you don’t work.  You use the Gateway to sign in and put your password in and you get a screen that says that you’re not registered for AML and aren’t authorised to enter.

    If you open a new page on your browser and google AML Gateway and use that page to log in with the same details, you can get in.

    I’ve been in the email loop ,myself when I lost my Gateway password – you need the password to log onto AML, but if you lose it, you have to follow a link from your AML page which you can’t get into without the password – it’s like something from Through the Looking  Glass.

    Totally unfit for purpose and the communication is unnecessarily threatening.

    Report
  12. James

    Perhaps complain to HMRC that they are embarrassing you and tarnishing your public image.

    They will be sure to write off this then!

    Report
  13. eltell

    Same problem here.  Having been unable to access the Government Gateway website we decided to start again with a new registration. After paying £230 registration fee and about 3 hours completing the application i received email from HMRC saying i had a secure message but no link to site ‘for security reasons’.  Once we had retrieved a password to access the AMLS site the message advised that their checks suggested we had not advised every ‘responsible’ person demanding a further £200 admin fee at £40 per person.for reference checks (eat your heart out tenant fee ban!).  As I had nominated only four responsible persons i needed to know who the fifth person could be.  There is absolutely no way to be able to communicate with this shower and the whole process is an extremely time wasting and frustrating joke.

    Report
  14. Chris Wood

    I’m registered but keep receiving notifications I can’t open and no apparent way of logging back in. God knows what notifications I need to read but I’m guessing even he’d have trouble getting access via the Gateway system.

    Report
  15. Nobby no nuts

    We too have had loads of issues with HMRC AML

    Report
  16. stabilo17

    who is the joker suggesting a complaint to HMRC will have any effect – that is a joke right? – I requested assistance and have an email saying they will respond in 2 days – that was the 13th August

    Report
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