Buried deep in the Budget document, there’s a pretty significant HMRC power grab.
If officials decide you owe them money, they now have the ability to take it directly out your bank account. No insolvency proceedings, asset freezes or debt collection agencies. Just the government taking out whatever it thinks it’s owed.
There are restrictions. The power can only be used once you’ve received a couple of letter and a phone call from enforcement. It only applies to people who owe over £1,000. HMRC must leave at least £5,000 in your account.
Once they get the money they put it on hold for 14 days and you’ve got a chance to get in touch and set up a payment plan. If you don’t, or you still refuse to pay up, they go ahead and keep it.
All’s fair in tax dodging, you might think – and indeed that will be the sentiment that George Osborne hopes will override concerns about the policy.
But the plot thickens.