I have just received a letter from the bank. I have had such letters before but I am entitled to take no action. But that is not how the tone and emphasis of the letter present the matter. Under the heading “Urgent Action Required – we need some information from you about your tax residency“, the body of the letter says:
By law we have to maintain and report tax information about our customers. If you do not respond to this letter, we may have to include information we already have about you in our reporting to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). This could mean that HMRC gets incorrect information about you.
Our records show that we do not hold one or more of the following pieces of information about you:
- The name of the country/countries where you are tax resident;
- Whether you are a United States of America citizen or not;
- Your social security number (SSN) or Tax Identification Number (TIN) as appropriate
Please complete the enclosed form with your current tax residency details, and return it to us at the address below within 14 days of receipt of this letter. Alternatively you can email an image of the completed form to us at [address]
Well, well, well. Where do we start with the stupidity of official bureaucracy – bureaucracy dictated by the State when it engages ostensibly independent and private corporations to execute its diktats and monitor its citizens personal affairs.
Well, there is the tunnel vision which official regulation inspires. The law requires that a private bank now hand over information about its customers on a routine basis, without warrant and without any reason whatsoever to suspect the customers integrity. We must have it; you must comply; you have not; ergo you are suspect. We require you to state explicitly that you are innocent of all the charges of suspicion we are entertaining about you.
Context, common sense and common human decency no longer exist. You have not stated your innocence according to the paradigm we have contrived with our form. In other words, I am guilty of what they suspect unless I state otherwise. They are psychologically and philosophically half way to finding me guilty. Yet I have done nothing wrong.
What is more, people who state utter nonsense in the first place can hardly be trusted to see the matter for what it is, when they have already begun to see it another way. Evidence of their irrational nonsense ? See the first paragraph.
There, they inform me that they are going to tell the government. Well tell them – it’s an outrageous invasion of my privacy but the law requires it, so feel free to do so. And what are they going to tell them ? Information which they already hold…
Yes, they already have all the information which they must hand over to the government about me. Such includes:
- my place of residence – to which they sent the letter and to which they send all other correspondence
- copies of my identification documents as required to open the account in the first place
- to whom all payments in the account are made, and from whom all payments to the account are received
- the history of all my places of residence and of all my transactions on the account, both cheque and card, going back for years …
So in fact they know exactly where I am resident, and they know that I am British, not American. All they have to do is look at their records…
In fact I don’t have to complete their form at all and thereby stumble into their paradigm based on the suspicion of my guilt. They threaten to tell the government – or they “may” tell the government …
And when they tell the government my personal business, which they have on record in black and white, they simultaneously warn me that they just might get it wrong …. To cite the letter:
“This could mean that HMRC gets incorrect information about you.”
How on earth can that be ?
You may understand therefore why I am not brimming over with confidence in this particular “Administration Team” for XXX.
It appears to me that their letter is so contrived as to intimidate the customer into conforming with their box ticking exercise – an exercise which will make their life so much easier; which will shift the responsibility from them to me – but for which they evidently have no legal or moral basis to require me to conform: they have already said they will tell the government if I don’t respond as dictated ...
Of course, a simple phone call or email enquiry from them would soon clear up any misunderstandings which they may be entertaining about my affairs. But why are they scrutinizing my affairs in the first place ?
I attempted to phone them. But what happened ? I got a central call-centre pre-recorded message telling me that they are so overwhelmed by the high volume of calls I should go to their website … Again pushing the customer into the financial and administrative system designed to suit their agenda, not the customer. Never mind the loss of jobs to staff and the inevitable impact in a reduced, unsatisfactory service for the customer.
Of course they could save both time and money if they moved the staff involved in this dubious exercise to answering the calls from loyal customers trying to run their affairs responsibly and legally.
My declarations on this and other websites, of course, arise from my personal outlook. I trust you will not be surprised then that the relevant government departments in both UK and in France are kept informed by me about my status and my affairs.
Why do they suspect me of being an American ? Presumably because my edition of Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France is handled by an American publisher. But that book also states that I am a native “Englishman”.
My nationality has only ever been English, therefore British.
Graham R. Catlin
PS as you may imagine, the woke world of academia is hardly falling over itself to buy my accessible edition of Burke’s brilliant book. They should be, of course, but they are not. So, Amazon appears to be getting rid of its ‘stock’ at cut price. Do take advantage here !