This week many thousands of people will have received a sternly worded letter warning that HMRC is getting 'unprecedented amounts of information about people's overseas accounts from more than 100 jurisdictions world wide, thanks to agreements to increase global tax transparency'
Even if you didn't have anything to worry about the tone of the letter makes feel that you might have.
I spoke to my accountant who said that he was going through his client list with a fine tooth comb as there would be some of his more elderly and longstanding ones who would be absolutely terrified by a letter like this.
" I can think of some" he said " who would have a serious panic attack at this kind of letter. They are the kind of people who when they get something official it is something to worry about."
HMRC has made it mandatory for all clients thought to have overseas deposits to be sent this letter. As it is almost impossible to weed these out the letter has gone out as a blanket mailer.
It is scandalous to think that many people who are vulnerable or living alone and without anyone to lean on will suddenly get this letter out of the blue.
Communication is not just about the words, its understanding the circumstances in which the communications take place and also what the consequences could be.
HMRC should have thought of this before they sent out such a missive.
The government opted to force financial institutions and advisers to make their clients aware of their reporting obligations on the grounds they know more than HMRC about whether their clients are likely to have offshore income. Many have struggled to narrow down their client lists to identify those with offshore assets. This would have been a hugely time-consuming task, potentially requiring them to go through six years of paper files. Instead, they are sending letters to all their clients.