A collection of short stories and journalistic commentaries depicting my simple life
and how I fit in with the modern day universe of our times

TAXING TIMES



As I write this, I’m sitting here waiting for a woman to turn up from the bank I’ve been using for the last 25 years. For some weird unknown reason, she wants me to prove I am exactly who I say I am.

I mean really… if I was going to pretend to be anyone, it would probably be someone far more good looking. It sure as hell wouldn’t be me.

Anyway, she rang yesterday because I want to open up a new account for my self administered pension fund. And despite the fact that I’ve been doing business with them for years, and they’re currently holding more of my money than it would take to solve the debt problems of a third world country, they’re still demanding to see my passport and driving licence before opening the new account for me.

Apparently it’s now the law… money laundering regulations… or so they say. Every time you do anything new, they’re legally obliged to check you out – all over again.

This is becoming something of a regular occurrence.
   
At the end of last week, I got a call from a solicitor who is handling the purchase of a property I’m partially financing for a third party. Here’s how the conversation went…

Solicitor: Can you tell me where the funds are from?
Me: From my bank account
Solicitor: But what’s the source of the funds?
Me: As I said, it will be coming out of my bank account. Do you want my bank details?
Solicitor: No, I need to determine the original source.
Me: Sorry, I don’t understand what you want.
Solicitor: Well where did the money come from? I need to establish a paper trail.
Me: What?
Solicitor: I need to establish that the funds are legitimate and not the proceeds of crime or drug sales.
Me: No, that would be from my other account that would.
Solicitor: (Silence)
Me: Sigh… Just tell me what you need.
Solicitor: Sorry, it’s money laundering regulations.
   
And that’s how things are in Britain since 2008. You can’t even move, spend or invest your own money without the government forcing banks and solicitors (under threat of imprisonment) to investigate every last detail about you and the transaction.

If they’re in any doubt at all that you’re not who you say you are, or can’t (or won’t) account for exactly how you came by the money, then they’re legally obliged to shop you to the authorities. If they fail in this role of unpaid state snoop, they face swapping their comfortable office for a jail cell themselves.
   
But that’s okay, because it’s all for our own good (again)… to help fight against crime, terrorism, drug dealing and the like… isn’t it?

Let me contrast what I’ve just told you with another
‘transaction’ I regularly make…

Twice a year, I receive a demand from the Inland Revenue for a depressingly large sum of money. I won’t tell you how much because I don’t want you feeling sorry for me, but it’s an awful lot.

Now for some reason, they’ve never felt the need to check that I am who I say I am when I pay that bill. They never feel the need to establish a ‘paper trail’… to find out where the money has come from. They just don’t seem to care. All they want is the bloody money. They don’t even send me a receipt or an acknowledgement for goodness sake.

When I’m buying or investing for myself, the fight against crime is of paramount importance. But when I’m giving the money to them, they don’t give a stuff.

Strange isn’t it? And there’s only one reason I can think of…
   
It’s because all of these unpaid state snoopers aren’t in any place to prevent money laundering – they’re just there to prevent tax evasion…

And there’s not much danger of you doing that while you’re paying your bill now is there?




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