HMRC raids on bank accounts are tip of toxic Tory taxberg

THE taxman has always displayed the compassion and subtlety of Twitter trolls while separating us from our hard-earned cash.

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Think back to the days when they were known as the Inland Revenue Service (the IRS), until someone pointed out it spelt THEIRS.

If they thought a name change to the more mundane Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs would inspire acquiescent forelock tugging among the peasantry they were right royally mistaken.

The relationship between public and purse snatchers has always been fraught, and it has just got worse.

A more accurate name for what HMRC now proposes for PAYE punters would be taxidermy.

At the behest of Tory Chancellor George Osborne (who else?), they want the legal right to raid your bank or building society accounts to recover alleged unpaid tax.

It will matter not a jot that it's a joint account and one partner owes them not a penny.

It will matter not a jot if that joint account is a pensioner's, managed by a younger relative.

If HMRC believes the relative owes them money, the pensioner's savings could go.

Osborne expects to seize £375million over four years, targeting 17,000 people who owe an average £5800 in tax.

And his partner in crime, PM David Cameron, has the brass neck to threaten a tax rise without that money. £375m over four years? It's the tip of a toxic Tory taxberg.

HMRC wrote off £10.9billion of unpaid tax in 2012 and Tax Research UK claims £120bn is the chasm between what's owed to HMRC and what's collected.

Multi-national tax avoiders were described by an all-party Westminster committee as "nasty" and "immoral".

Even Cameron and Osborne claimed "moral repugnance for aggressive tax avoidance", so why have they not chased the fat cats, or at the very least dumped their Take That CD collections?

Experts estimate that 19 US-owned multinationals pay just 3% on British profits.

It was revealed last week that Amazon paid just £4.2m in UK tax last year, despite selling goods worth £4.3bn.

Over the last four years Amazon has generated £23bn in British sales but in 10 years has paid just over £10m in tax.

Google, Facebook, Apple, Ikea, eBay, Caffe Nero and Asda all make fortunes in the UK and pay a pittance in tax.

They're doing nothing illegal, so forget calls for a boycott.

Consumer pressure may have persuaded Starbucks to stump up for the first time in five years but it's high time government closed the loopholes that make such scams legal.

And if it's true that every £1 spent chasing tax dodgers brings £60 into HMRC coffers, which idiot thought it made sense to chop tens of thousands of tax office jobs?

No doubt we'll be told these powers will be used only in extreme cases, but if you actually believe they will stop at 17,000 people then you must still believe Elvis is alive.

And who would be next through that banking stable door? Cypriot-style government bank raids? Local councils looking for council tax?

As the all-party Treasury Select Committee says: "This policy is highly dependent on HMRC's ability accurately to determine which taxpayers owe money and what amounts they owe, an ability not always demonstrated in the past."

That's putting it mildly. HMRC admit that millions of people are routinely charged the wrong amount of tax, so just imagine the chaos with free access to our bank accounts.

HMRC would effectively become judge and jury and sheriff's officer, with the burden of proof passing from them to the citizen.

Whatever happened to being innocent until proven guilty?

If the taxman believes money is owed by someone who is refusing to pay, do what everybody else has to do and take legal action.

At the moment you need a court order to seize money from bank accounts. Scrapping that requirement could also return the Revenue to preferred creditor status in any bankruptcy proceedings, an entitlement they lost in 2003.

It's another example of them becoming almost an extension of government, having already tracked down a whistle-blowing employee by using powers that were meant to catch terrorists.

The employee exposed HMRC's multi-million pound "sweetheart" deal with investment bank Goldman Sachs.

Don't expect them to be such sweethearts when it's your bank account they're raiding.

GOBBY Jeremy Clarkson used the 'N' word last month on Top Gear. The BBC did not sack or suspend him for his umpteenth gaff. He got another smack on the wrist.

Last week, veteran Devon radio DJ David Lowe, 68, played an 82-year-old version of The Sun Has Got His Hat On — not knowing it featured the racial slur. He was sacked after ONE bitter listener complained.

Don't you just love the PC-handcuffed Beeb's double standards?

Finance

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