A policy document recently published online reveals HMRC want new powers to allow them to access bank accounts without the account holders being notified. Under current rules a bank or other financial institution is required to notify their customers if tax officials request access to any of their account information such as bank statements. The new powers will mean HMRC can carry out secret investigations and check if the correct tax is being paid by trawling through a person's bank account without them ever being made aware.
The move has been condemned by its critics claiming it is a breach of privacy. James Daley, the managing director of Fairer Finance, said "the system we have got contains essential protections for taxpayers' privacy and rights. The idea that HMRC can request information from people's bank, from state agents and other third parties without notifying the individual is shocking".
According to HMRC, under the current arrangement, requesting access to financial information takes a disproportionate amount of resources as the process is too bureaucratic. Foreign governments have also expressed the same opinion stating that the process is so onerous that it discourages them from investigating people with a connection to the UK.
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