Commenting on the second reading of the National Insurance Contributions Bill, taking place in the House of Lords today, Director of the Adam Smith Institute, Dr Eamonn Butler, said:
The National Insurance Contributions Bill, which is in the Lords today, still maintains provisions for HMRC to issue "Accelerated Payment Notices" in disputed tax cases; a power that could send innocent citizens into financial ruin.
Under this new legislation, HMRC can force taxpayers to hand over disputed National Insurance funds before a court rules that the money is owed; people could see their homes sold and finances bankrupted, before being found innocent in a court of law.
Those who are struggling financially or who are unable to procure proper defence will be the easy targets of the new legislation; and those who have used tax planning arrangements that HMRC now deems questionable or illegitimate will have to undertake expensive action to defend their legal behaviour.
HMRC has become accountable only to itself; it is able to decide when and how much tax must be dished out from taxpayers, with a court's ruling only working in the after-math of the decision. This aspect of the NIC Bill fundamentally undermines the right of British citizens to be innocent until proven guilty and sets a dangerous precedent for more powers to be devolved to unaccountable agencies in the future.
Notes to editors:
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The Adam Smith Institute is an independent libertarian think tank based in London. It advocates classically liberal public policies to create a richer, freer world.