‘Unpaid taxes’ retrieval power – good or bad?

tax

Don’t you hate it when people avoid telling you things you ought to know?

George Osborne’s budget speech never mentioned the new power granted to HM Revenue and Customs, allowing it “to delve into Britons’ bank accounts for money that officials think is owed in unpaid taxes, in a move which critics have warned leave officials ‘a law unto themselves’,” according to the Huffington Post.

The trouble is, I’m not sure whether this is really a bad thing, or a useful tool in the battle against corporate and mega-rich tax avoiders/evaders.

Here’s what the HuffPost had to say:

“The Chancellor slipped details of the move out in the Budget’s Red Book, which stated that HMRC will be able to take money from people who owe officials over £1,000 in tax.

“Officials will only be able to use the power for Britons who have been asked ‘multiple times’ by debt collection officials to pay, and must leave at least £5,000 in the account.

“‘This brings the UK in line with many other tax authorities which already have the power to recover debts directly from an individual’s account, such as France and the US,’ the Budget reads.

“Once HMRC takes the money, the taxpayer will have 14 days to get in touch and set up a payment plan, otherwise officials will keep what they have taken.

“Osborne’s Budget also gave HMRC the power to take money from those they suspect of unfairly avoiding tax, with money only handed back – with interest – if the taxpayer wins a legal challenge in the courts.”

What do you think?

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15 thoughts on “‘Unpaid taxes’ retrieval power – good or bad?

  1. Jim Campbell

    “Osborne’s Budget also gave HMRC the power to take money from those they suspect of unfairly avoiding tax, with money only handed back – with interest – if the taxpayer wins a legal challenge in the courts.”

    So, you’re punished and then you have to prove your innocence in court? I have no sympathy for those who avoid paying tax for which they’re legally liable, but THAT worries me enormously.

    1. Mike Sivier

      Jim has since added, on Facebook: “Does that not remove the presumption of innocence from UK law? God knows, I’m not sympathetic to those who avoid paying their taxes, but this suggests that you can be punished on SUSPICION and then have to prove your innocence in court.”

  2. DeadDOTAS

    Yes, you are now automatically guilty until proven innocent – and so goes the British constitution down the toilet….

  3. chriswaynepoetry

    It isn’t just the presumption of guilt about this scheme that worries me. One reason for the anger concerning tax aviodance is that there appears to be one rule for the elite as it were and a different rule for the rest of us. Will this change with this scheme? I’m not sure that it will.

    “Officials will only be able to use the power for Britons who have been asked ‘multiple times’ by debt collection officials to pay, and must leave at least £5,000 in the account.’

    How many times specifically are multiple times and realistically how many people have £5,000 in their bank account to begin with.

  4. Jess

    How often will it be used on tax-dodgers (whose bank accounts are probably off-shored anyway)?

    I think we know who will bear the brunt of this little dodge.

    The very people who will be unable to challenge it in the courts, because their funds have already been sequestrated….

  5. beastrabban

    Reblogged this on Beastrabban’s Weblog and commented:
    This looks, on the face of it, to be perfectly acceptable. The state is merely acquiring the right to seize monies owed to it as unpaid tax. However, several of Mike’s commenters have made very good points. Jim Campbell first of all points out that it removes the presumption of innocence in British law. Under the present law, you are innocent until proven guilty. On the continent, where this piece of legislation appears to emanate, you are guilty until proven innocent. Thus, another traditional, British constitutional freedom is kicked away.

    Secondly, Chriswaynepoetry and Jess both makes the very good point that it will be used, not against the tax-dodgers, who have off-shore accounts, but against the ordinary Brit at a far lower level of society. In which case, it looks like a traditional establishment piece of window-dressing. It looks like an innocuous or even impressive piece of legislation tackling an acknowledged problem, until you look at the circumstances and find that it’s directed against the poor. The rich, who owe by far the most in unpaid taxes, will not be touched. And I doubt very, very much that the Conservatives want it any other way. When Colin Challen, a Lib Dem MP, began investigating Tory financing in the 1990s, he found that half of it remains unaccounted for. There are some very powerful, and probably extremely dodgy people backing the Tories, who don’t wish their identities to be known. And it’s a fair guess that many of them are the same people dodging tax through off-shore accounts.

  6. jaypot2012

    “The Chancellor slipped details of the move out in the Budget’s Red Book, which stated that HMRC will be able to take money from people who owe officials over £1,000 in tax.”

    This says from people, not companies, not corporations, not businesses – this is for the ordinary Joe Bloggs, not for the elite, as per usual.
    The fact that you have to prove yourself innocent but have had the money taken from you which says to me that you are already guilty, that’s bad and should NOT be allowed.

    As for having £5,000 in your bank account! no-one I know has even got £500 in their accounts!!! It’s a damned disgrace that anyone can go and have a look at your bank account if needs be – well, in future I’ll be taking cash out of my account for the shopping etc and any saving can be done in the house. Not that I have a lot of money, I don’t due to being disabled, but what emergency money I build up (again, not a lot), it’ll be done at home so that the greedy “son’s of bitches” at the HMRC and the government can go screw themselves!!!

  7. MrChekaMan

    They won’t go after the very rich, they’ll go after those that won’t have the money to challenge them in the courts and also pay their bills and eat.

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