I have been more than half persuaded by the arguments presented here by those who feel that the presumption of innocence should be paramount and that we should not treat people as being likely to be involved in the commission of illegal acts, unless there is strong evidence to suggest such a thing. As a result of this, I have become uneasy in my mind lately about the activities of the Inland Revenue.
As readers are perhaps aware, the tax inspectors are constantly on the lookout for those fiddling their taxes. They insist on comprehensive and detailed forms being filled out and make many visits to businesses on a random basis, just on the off chance that offences are being committed. This is outrageous.
What would be far fairer, as well as more in keeping with the spirit of English jurisprudence, would be if a network of Honesty Boxes were established on street corners. These would be rather like pillar boxes and instead of tax being deducted automatically by employers or our having to fill out complex forms regularly, we would all be responsible for calculating our own tax and then putting it in these Honesty Boxes. Of course, if the Inland Revenue had sound reason to suspect that somebody was not paying enough tax, they could still make a visit, but the automatic assumption that citizens would be guilty of fiddling their taxes unless closely supervised would be done away with. Remember, ’Innocent until proven guilty’!