Billy left his Xbox One switched on last evening when he popped out to meet his mate Rodriguez for a hardly-earned kebab. Three of us crowded around it and started playing with stuff in an attempt to begin to understand the fascination he has with this extended limb. In doing so it appears that we accidentally reduced his status from 'Lord-Of-All-Things' to 'Centipede', and that doesn't look good (we wonder if he will find out).
In one game, 'Dark Star Avengers IX', he has, it seems, earned 928 'Points of Zorb', just 72 short of eternal life, or unlimited wealth, or a five foot penis, or some such thing. Billy already has the power to kill aliens at will with his mind (a power Andy thinks he already has by simply not believing in them) and to populate a distant planet with just one of his 'Man Spores', so does he really need any more such powers?
The same can be asked of HMRC. They already have the power to pale the most pigmented of faces by printing their name on an envelope and having it pushed through a letter box and to freeze blood with the message, 'Call HMRC on this number to discuss your ... situation'. Do they really need more? Yes they do, it seems. They need the power to force financial institutions to pass on information about people’s assets without a court order or the individual’s approval. Just via the sheer will of their mind, it appears.
In doing so they need banks, investment advisers, fund managers, credit unions, insurance companies and credit card issuers to divulge information about their customers if served with a 'financial institution notice' (not a mere notice, but a edict from the Gods of Thunder) under measures contained in the next finance bill. Currently, they have a less-than-super power to merely ask a third party to provide information about an individual’s financial affairs if the person agrees or the tax tribunal approves the request. Pfft. A mere bagatelle, nothing like enough power for a super-being whose people have the ability to take 15 days off work for stress and blame you for not getting in touch whilst they were watching daytime TV and 'trying to come to terms with the death of their tortoise'.
The Government, who have themselves recently acquired the power to break international law with a mere flick of a blonde lock of hair, want to introduce the measures, which could be in force next year, to make it quicker and easier for HMRC to share information with foreign tax authorities, as part of a global effort to crack down on evasion and tax avoidance. The Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIT) said it was “concerned about the loss of independent tribunal oversight, particularly in cases which involve requests for information about UK taxpayers”. The CIT are now in prison in Pakistan talking to three hooded men carrying a hose.
Not everyone agrees that this is a dreadful attack on our civil liberties: “The UK is the only G20 country that requires the approval of a tribunal, or the consent of the taxpayer, before a third party notice can be issued,” said Jake Landman, legal director at law firm Pinsent Mason. “Looking at things from that perspective, changes to the notice rules are arguably justified.” Jake turned from the microphone, to walk away, revealing the letters 'HMRC Approved' on the back of his t-shirt. This is an example of a situation when we would like to reduce a man to a jibbering wreck with one message on a mobile phone.