Surprise, surprise: everyone wants your money

Business banking news review: week ending 27 March 2014

You might not think it’s particularly groundbreaking to learn everyone wants your money, but now even more of it is set to flow away from you in the future.

The first revelation this week: banks are a hair’s breadth from beginning to charge their customers in droves simply for the sin of having a savings account or current account with them, according to Royal Bank of Scotland chief executive Ross McEwan. Free banking’s days are numbered, the RBS boss said, mostly because new regulations coming down the pipeline are going to make things harder for the nation’s financial service providers – and we all know that bad news gets passed down to customers.

Of course, Mr McEwan attempted to spin his statements by stating that eventually the entire process will actually be beneficial for customers, based on the fact that transparency will increase. Meanwhile I don’t know how this will help anyone who would rather not have to pay through the nose just for the privilege of keeping their money somewhere besides their bloody mattress, but I suppose I’m just old-fashioned that way.

So yes, there you have it – banks will be grabbing your cash so they can hold on to the rest of it. It could be worse, though – there could be language in the new Budget that paves the way for Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs to raid the bank accounts of taxpayers with impunity.

No, it’s not hyperbole – it’s true. If the taxman feels you haven’t been paying your fair share it can now go into your bank accounts and simply take the funds without resorting to a debt collection agency, an asset freeze, and certainly without an insolvency proceeding. This would just slow down the process of money flowing into Treasury coffers, and we certainly can’t have that can we?

So here’s fair warning: if you’ve already gotten a letter or two from the tax authority and if they’ve been ringing you up, you’re likely to have HMRC stick its grubby little paws into your hard-earned cash – especially if you owe them more than £1,000. Or it thinks you owe in excess of £1,000. At least there is a limit – if you would have less than £5,000 in your account if the taxman takes out the full amount, you’re left with the full £5,000. Cold comfort I suppose, but at least you’re not left completely destitute. Suddenly the banks taking a few quid out to fund  your bank account doesn’t seem nearly as terrible, does it?

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