ID cards could grant the taxman access to your bank records | Henry Porter |


ID cards could grant the taxman access to your bank records

We can’t allow the government to introduce legislation which allows the ID card database to be used for tax enforcement

Comments (60)

Campaigners against ID cards have warned for years that the ID verification process will give the authorities power to monitor a person’s spending and draw conclusions about their tax declarations and real income.

These fears were dismissed by government supporters and journalists as hysterical but now they turn out to be rather well-founded.

Secondary legislation laid before parliament last week reveals that the taxman will have access to the log of a person’s major transactions, hotel bookings, airline tickets, holidays, car payment plans etc. Naturally the subject of this inspection will have no idea that HM Revenue and Customs is examining their spending log or what deductions, false or otherwise, will be made.

As the Daily Mail pointed out this legislation was quietly introduced to parliament at the very moment that MPs’ fraudulent and tax-avoiding affairs were being revealed by the Daily Telegraph. A piquant detail in the long story of how parliament has come to revile the ordinary member of the public.

It is absolutely essential for civil society and the conduct of our democracy – or what remains of it – that faceless bureaucrats are not given the power to look into individuals’ spending. It is another line drawn in the sand that we allow the executive to cross at our peril. I suggest that we should regard it as part of the battle to equalise the power of the government and the people.

But there are many who do not see the threat and indeed argue for even greater intrusion and data collection by the state. David Goodhart, the editor of Prospect magazine, wrote recently: "If there is too much suspicion of the state and too many data protection rules the state cannot give us what we want. It might be useful if we started to see out data as similar to tax, something we willingly surrender to the authorities in return for various benefits."

In this newly announced piece of legislation, tax and data become intimately associated in a way that Goodhart no doubt applauds. But it never seems to occur to critics that the state has no natural right to either tax or information. Both are given up only with our consent, which depends on the demonstrable competence and propriety of the state, something that none of us could swear to today.

Goodhart’s is the argument of tyrants and slaves, it urges us to trust the state regardless of the evidence of its fallibility. Incidentally, it seems ironic that this statist line appears in a magazine part–owned by two wealthy financiers, one of whom, George Robinson is a hedge fund manager who made £18m in 2004 on a turnover of £74m, income that no doubt benefited from the favourable tax environment devised for hedge funds by Gordon Brown.

The supporters of state databases are going to have to campaign very hard over the coming months, not just about intrusion, but also data security. It will be interesting to see how they propose to guarantee the safety of our data after the 11th day of revelations by the Daily Telegraph, which of course all come from a breach of an official database, just like the one that will monitor our spending.

ID cards could grant the taxman access to your bank records | Henry Porter | Comment is free |

6 responses to “ID cards could grant the taxman access to your bank records | Henry Porter |

  1. A remnant of “the stimulus” and resulting hyperinflation from the “naughts and teens” is the requirement that all US citizens and workers in the US carry a federal issued credit card. The federal government and most other levels of government in the USA accept payment only from “fed card” accounts. The cards now carry high interest rates and fees, but no new interest or fees can be charged if the card is maxed out.

    Commercial and even private banks are making a resurgence in the USA. The advantage to the consumer is the relative privacy of transactions and better interest rates than government rates. A court order is required for the authorities to gain access to an individual’s private or commercial bank records. Occasionally a court order might be needed for fed card records.

    The above is part of the downside future I envisioned for a book set in the 2030’s USA. I only wrote that a few weeks ago and I am saddened that the UK is going that direction that I only wanted for the backdrop of a book, as a prop for a Libertarian couple to fight against.

    (wish you had preview for comments)

  2. Tony,

    (1) Your commments are often far too long and put other people off scrolling down to the comment box. I an sure this is not what you intended.

    (2) All this stuff about ACLU, whatever that may be, “Military Commissions” and allegations of torture is not relevant to the above article.

  3. Dave:

    All of these subjects are crucial to libertarian concerns.

    I STILL do not know how to “create” a thread or topic. SHOW ME!!


  4. Dear Tony:

    This is a blog. I create the threads and topics. So do the post writers.

    Comments are supposed to respond to, and add value to the posts, either by saying something relevant, or by refuting what is suggested.

    Your comments may of course give rise to a comment-thread of their own. But if you continue indiscriminately to put up 300-page screeds about things ACPO have done, or ACLU or whatever they are called, tangentially referring to 9/11 hypotheses or torture-allegations, then those who ordinarily would comment, and might decide to scroll down to the text-box, will run our of time and petrol on the way. therefore you are likely to get fewer threads generated from your insertions in the comment stream.

  5. Pingback: Interest Rates » ID cards could grant the taxman access to your bank records …

  6. Remember…
    Big brother wants what is good for you, even if you don’t know it yet, you’ll appreciate when you’ll have lived like that for a while…promise!
    In Italy there are similar provisions in force for decades (REDDITOMETRO), hailed as the meekest and most progressive tax provisions…matching one’s estates with filed income…of course you cannot own 3 yachts and 4 rolls while paying taxes on €10.000 a year, right?
    Needless to say, there are prominent politicians disclosing as little as €50.000 or less, but you won’t want to talk about THAT…in fact, big brother’s axioms are like the Pope’s: divine advice for our own good…”do as I say and not as I do”…

    What really interests me is the absurd concept of BANK SECRECY…
    No such thing exist…and I am NOT referring to conspiracies involving rigged networks, broken cyphers etc…I am referring to the fact that every front-desk junior employee in every bank (in the countries I have been banking in ) can simply open your profile and see everything about yourself…I know first hand of cases of those N-tier employees heard chatting about their clients’ affairs in public places…
    You do not need Skynet and an army of Terminators…
    Of course it may be illegal to disclose a client’s private affairs, but the point is…in a bank I went to they had say twelve different N-tier, front-desk employees…all had access to every client’s record, mine included…
    No need for big budget surveillance…big brother ought just to have one henchman hired as temporary staff…