The Treasury Select Committee has warned that it continues to have "considerable concern" about proposals for HMRC to be allowed to deduct money directly from tax debtors' bank accounts.
Unsurprisingly Lin Homer continues to deny that there is a problem with this proposal, and told the committee that it doesn't breach Magna Carta protections for the individual against the state.
In addition to wanting to raid bank accounts of recalcitrant tax debtors, Homer and her gang want to access bank statements going back 12 months and to freeze the accounts of those HMRC deem to be recalcitrant for 14 days whilst HMRC "check spending patterns".
Now you and I might point out to Homer and her gang that there are already laws at HMRC's disposal, that enable it to recoup money from the recalcitrant. The problem, from Homer's perspective, is that these laws require HMRC to prove (via the courts) that it has a right to extract monies owed.
In Homer's view the courts are simply too slow and expensive; ie she wants HMRC to be placed above the law!
The committee takes a dim view of Homer's desire to ride roughshod over the law, and has already warned in a recent report that the new powers would be "wholly unacceptable" without a requirement for independent approval from a court, ombudsman or tribunal before money was taken.
Homer was having none of that, she is quoted by the Guardian:
"I believe that for the taxpayer as a whole, it is right that we have sufficient powers to stop these limited numbers of people avoiding paying tax.The Liberal Democrat committee member John Thurso said that HMRC was trying to become judge, jury and executioner and to remove legal protections from those who it believes owe tax, simply because it was slow and expensive to follow the legal processes.
We are talking about 17,000 people who don't dispute the tax is due, they just don't pay. We will have written to them, we will have engaged with them and they just fold their arms and wait for us to take some other action.
Of course, we can go to court, but the cost both in time and money of going to court will often outweigh or seriously diminish the amount of tax collected. In these cases, we believe with proper safeguards... this is a fairer way of extracting the tax everybody is due to pay."
All of this, if Homer's wish is granted, for a poxy £375M over four years!
Ironically, when quizzed about whether HMRC would pay compensation when (not "if") it made a mistake Homer said it would be up the courts to decide the amount. These being the same courts that she doesn't want to use when raiding people's bank accounts!
To grant Homer and her chums in HMRC these powers would be madness in the extreme!
Tax does have to be taxing.
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