Human Events Blog

Enter the “tax hitmen” of England

Here’s another interesting development from the United Kingdom, which is considerably further down the high-tax, high-spending road to ruin that Barack Obama has in mind for the United States.  Not only are millionaires fleeing the U.K., but those who don’t have the option of voting with their feet will now be subjected to further invasions of their privacy, conducted by what the UK Telegraph calls “tax hitmen”:

Credit reference agencies will cross-check details of the income people declare on their tax returns against their spending patterns to identify “high” and “medium” risks of both illegal and legal tax avoidance.

People identified to HM Revenue and Customs will then be subject to more detailed investigations. About two million people are expected to be scrutinised under the programme, which may lead to privacy concerns.

HMRC will today unveil the “successful” results of a pilot programme involving about 20,000 people which will now be extended nationally.

Many of those who are expected to be identified are likely to be self-employed workers who have under-declared their income to the authorities.

However, those who have benefited from secret windfalls – such as an inheritance or a bonus – and people with secret offshore accounts could also be highlighted.

This is all supposed to help the British government capture “hundreds of millions” of pounds in unpaid taxes.  It sounds reminiscent of the infamous 1099 reporting requirements built into ObamaCare – a measure that would have forced small business owners to shuffle millions of extra pages of paperwork, in an effort to capture “under-reported” sources of tax revenue for the government.  It was so burdensome that not even congressional Democrats were willing to keep it… but give us a few more years to travel down the “road to Greece,” and it will probably return in some form, right about the time we’re passing the United Kingdom off-ramp.

The discussion in tax-hungry Britain has a predictably Orwellian flavor, especially since the concept of legally avoiding taxes is readily conflated with illegally evading them, or unwittingly under-paying them:

Ministers also wish to encourage more whistle-blowers to come forward with details of offshore bank accounts.

Mr Osborne said: “While most taxpayers are doing their bit to help us balance the books, it is unacceptable for a minority to avoid paying their fair share.”

Danny Alexander, the Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury, added: “It is simply not fair that at a time when most people are making a contribution to balancing the nation’s books, there is a small minority of taxpayers who try to escape their responsibility.”

And it’s not limited to hiring U.K credit agencies to serve as tax bounty hunters:

The credit-reference scheme is among a series of initiatives to be outlined today to reduce tax avoidance and evasion among wealthy Britons and multinational companies.

Mr Osborne will also announce an agreement with Switzerland which will give the British authorities access to the details of the offshore savings of thousands of Britons.

Information will also be routinely shared between the British and American authorities.

The Treasury is to provide an extra £77 million a year to HMRC over the next two years to increase its investigative capability. The “affluent unit” which targets the wealthy is to take on 100 extra staff.

Of course, there are privacy concerns… but frankly, you can’t have that sort of privacy in a bankrupt high-tax welfare state.  The more money the State tries to squeeze from the private sector, the less any aspect of business, or life, can be protected by a curtain of privacy rights.  This is particularly true when the government is frantically trying to hide the true tax burden from its citizens, by collecting money through hundreds of little micro-transaction back doors, instead of openly declaring high rates on the middle class with limited exemptions.  And it’s even more obvious when the government has to start hiring fresh legions of bureaucrats, at extravagant expense, to grab every bit of cash from the rapidly shrinking “private” sector.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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