Apparently celebrities, royals and MPs are more important than the average taxpayer. Ok, that’s not particularly a shocking revelation, they are, but surely when it comes to matters of public administration, like self-assessment tax forms, we should all be treated equally? You could never imagine something like that happening in the US. There’d be a public outcry.
Ever since the Bush administration introduced the Patriot Act many of us on this side of the pond would make snide remarks about the US not being a free nation any more. Whilst those criticisms still hold some weight, this is yet another example of how this country is not so free itself. The government is inept enough to lose personal data for 25 million people and instead of safeguarding the electorate from this sort of thing happening again it’s simply made them safeguard a chosen few.
Worse yet for the rest of us there’s no choice. Were they to say that all taxpayers would have the choice to submit their self-assessment by post, and this “chosen few” would have to do so, that would be fair as at least the rest of us would be able to choose to follow the same route. Why is it my personal data is any less important than the Queen’s? In fact, if I were an identity thief I wouldn’t try and steal the Queen’s identity, as it’d be flagged immediately. I’d go for an “average” person to sneak under the radar.
I still don’t understand why we have all this high confidentiality over tax records anyway. Surely since the treasury is, in theory, collecting money on our behalf (the basis of taxation is that our collective money is used to fund our collective will, executed on our behalf by the government) all tax records should be public record, as they are in the United States? We’re living in a time where governments are constantly talking about “freedom of information” so why all the secrecy over tax returns?
What do you think? Should all tax records be publicly accessible? If you live in the US, where they are, what do you think about that? Does it bother you that your neighbours can find out what you earn? Should celebrities and politicians be treated differently?