It’s time to remind ourselves that Napoleon lost the Battle of Waterloo. He was defeated, in part, by an innovative new tax called income tax, which was introduced as a temporary measure, and intended to be in substance a voluntary levy raised in order to defeat the common enemy.
There are people today who obviously would have preferred Napoleon to win. They want a high rate of tax, collected by an overweening bureaucracy, with supposed defaulters being fair game for privileged parliamentary discussion.
Well. let’s just remember that a tax return is confidential, and no one else is entitled to see it. If you suspect that someone is under-declaring income, all you can do is to take your suspicion to HM Revenue & Customs, and leave it at that. If you try to raise the matter in any other forum, then we will end up with the position that people can only defend themselves by making their tax returns public, which defeats the principle of taxpayer confidentiality, and counts as a victory for Napoleon.
The police do not have the right to search houses at random, on the off-chance that they may find stolen goods or illegal drugs on the premises. This is the householder’s right to privacy. Likewise, people who are likely to be of more interest to HM Revenue & Customs, such as the rich and the self-employed, do have certain rights as well. Let’s not forget this and let’s remember that income tax is a civilian tax to be collected by polite methods.