Monday, July 28, 2008

Why we are all the Taxman's "Customers"

Having written an extensive piece yesterday about why the Tax credits system is not fit for purpose I thought I would share a related observation.

One of the complaints I hear most frequently about HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC or the Taxman) is the way they refer to Taxpayers as Customers. Historically we were all Taxpayers. We knew where we stood and so did everyone at (what was then) the Inland Revenue.

Of course there are more serious complaints and issues but this one really seems to get up people's noses.

Back in 1999 Gordon Brown started the transition of responsibility for paying social security benefits to the Inland Revenue. The benefits were given a new name ('Tax Credits') and almost overnight the Taxman became responsible for interacting with many people who were NOT Taxpayers.

There's probably a good reason somewhere to explain why we can't be described, accurately, as Taxpayers and Tax Credit applicants. Instead we are all lumped together and described as 'Customers'.

No doubt the logic for this was to instil an appropriate mindset in those who work for the Taxman. All employees should treat their customers appropriately of course.

But wait a moment. Customers normally have a choice. Taxpayers don't. There is also an old adage: 'The Customer is always right'. Not when it comes to negotiating with the Taxman he isn't.

No comments:

Post a Comment