HMRC will be given new powers to open people’s mail without notifying the addressee.
Although primarily aimed at tobacco smugglers and carousel fraudsters, it will have far wider applications. According to a Daily Telegraph report an HMRC spokesman said: “HMRC will no longer be required to notify the addressee and invite them to attend before such packets can be opened”.
Whilst we would not expect this power to be used routinely in business tax enquiries, this is a potentially very worrying development and comes alongside sweeping and intrusive Information and Inspection Powers granted to HMRC in 2008. There are very limited safeguards in place. Many professional commentators have observed that even Stalin’s tax inspectors did not have the amount of power now wielded by the UK tax enforcers.
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