The old adage "power corrupts" appears to have passed HMRC and Alistair Darling by, when they chose to ignore advice from the ICAEW about Darling's 442 page Finance Bill.
The Finance Bill gives HM Revenue & Customs more powers to raid businesses, without the need for a warrant.
The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) is increasing its calls for a rethink after the Finance Bill, published yesterday, showed that its earlier advice had been ignored.
Advice to the ICAEW, this government (most especially the Treasury) doesn't listen!
The ICAEW stated that it is seriously concerned that the provisions "appear to be aimed primarily towards investigations of a 'criminal type' nature, as distinct from civil enquiries into a taxpayers' affairs."
The trouble stems from the fact that the "Revenue" side of HMRC is itching to attain the same powers as those enjoyed by Customs & Excise, before the ill fated merger in 2005.
The ICAEW notes that the provisions "give far too much power to HMRC without adequate safeguards for taxpayers".
-The power to enter business premises with only a day's notice
-The ability to mount 'fishing expeditions' by inspecting the position of a taxpayer before a return is made
-The right of HMRC to dictate record-keeping requirements
The ICAEW is concerned by the lack of safeguards, such as rights of appeal and the increasing tendency of HMRC to seek broad powers in primary legislation.
Given the government's track record, and the thirst by HMRC for new powers, it is unlikely that the ICAEW will get very far with its polite requests.
Nu Labour does not do "simplification of tax", and most certainly does not believe in "legislation lite".
HMRC has been politicised by this government, and is being used as the tool of government policy. It's actual role should be no more than that of an efficient, cost effective administrative function that collects tax.
Tax does have to be taxing.
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