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Orwell, You Were Wrong - But Only By 25 Years

Jeremy Hetherington-Gore Unleashed
03 February, 2009

Scene: A House In Coronation Street, Manchester

Time: 4th February, 2012

George Thomas is playing football with his son Edward on their Nintendo Wii.6, which they had bought on a visit to Bratislava the previous week to see Manchester United play Bayern Munich. There is a loud hammering at the door. Outside, three very scary-looking heavies in Stasi-style uniforms are pointing Kalashnikovs.

'On your knees,' yells the leader, in a Hollywood Soviet accent, 'Hands on your heads.'

His name turns out to be Dmitri, and after Edward was allowed to pop to the Rover's Return to borrow a bottle of vodka, he explains that they have come to collect VAT on the Nintendo.

'You professional,' says Dmitri (true enough - George plays as a reserve for Solihull), 'VAT exemption only for private peoples in EU. You lie to shop. Very serious. Must pay fine of fifty times value, 40,000 Euros according Slovenian law, or come back with us for trial'.

'I only have 20,000 Euros,' stammers George. 'You can see my bank statements.'

'No need,' says Dmitri dryly. 'We already took it.'

Extreme? Impossible? Imaginary?

Just take a look at the Orwellian directive 'adopted' by our masters in Brussels this week (relevant wording highlighted):

According to the Commission, one of the key elements of the proposals, adopted on February 2, is that member states would no longer be able to "invoke bank secrecy in order to refuse cross border co-operation."

The proposal provides clearer and more precise rules in the area of cooperation. In particular, it sets up common rules of procedures, common forms, formats and channels for exchanging information. It also allows tax administration officials in one member state to be on the territory of another member state and to participate actively – with the same powers of inspection – in administrative enquiries carried out there.

The Commission proposes in particular to:

  • Cover all taxes and duties levied by the member states and their administrative subdivisions, as well as compulsory social security contributions;
  • Introduce compulsory spontaneous exchange of information concerning refunds of taxes made by national tax authorities to non residents;
  • Allow officials of one country to actively participate in administrative enquiries on the territory of another country;
  • Allow that recovery assistance is requested in an early stage of the recovery process, if this leads to an increase of the recovery chances; and
  • Simplify and rationalise the procedures to be used when requesting or providing mutual assistance.

Current arrangements for mutual assistance in the assessment and the recovery of taxes respectively date from 1977 (Council directive 1977/799/EEC) and 1976 (Council directive 1976/308/EEC).

Oh, well, if it's that old, it's obviously wrong, like the Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights and Habeas Corpus. Time we chucked out all this old pre-Napoleonic rubbish.


About the Author

Jeremy Hetherington-Gore Unleashed

Jeremy tackles the difficult issues head on!


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