HMRC Is Shite

HMRC Is Shite
Dedicated to the taxpayers of Britain, and the employees of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC), who have to endure the monumental shambles that is HMRC.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Nudge Theory

I see that HMRC are indulging in some psychological tricks (known as "nudge theory") in an effort to increase tax take. The mind control techniques are being devised by a special unit set up by Cameron which, oddly enough, the government refuses to disclose the activities or membership of.

As per The Independent:

"One experiment involved Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) secretly changing the wording of tens of thousands of tax letters, leading to the collection of an extra £200m in income tax.... officials who reinforce "norms" dramatically increase their collection rates. The authorities tend to be "quite aggressive and assertive" when chasing late payers, Dr Halpern said. "We will send you a rude letter and say: 'We're going to come and find you and break down your door and take away your children.' So [HMRC] officials had been reading a bit of [nudge] literature and they changed letters on just one block of letters [chasing] £600m in unpaid tax.

"The normal repayment rate is about 50 per cent. The [new] letter says: '94 per cent of people pay their tax on time', so now you emphasis the underlying social norm – and then: 'Even if one person doesn't it has a significant impact'. The repayment rate went up to 85 per cent, [collecting] £200m just in that experiment.

The state never ceases to try to control people, whther by legislation or mind games.

Tax does have to be taxing.

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  1. "Even if one person doesn't it has a significant impact".

    Good--one person can make a difference in the battle against thieving political scum.

  2. How about sending one back?

    "If you do not start dealing with tax queries correctly and in a timely manner I will kick your door down and stick my boot up your arse"

  3. I owe you some money. You would like it to be paid. So you write and ask for it. What's wrong with using the most persuasive language you can muster to get me to pay you?

    It's obvious to a half wit that nobody likes paying tax - but what are you going to do? Abolish it? If you accept that a civilised society needs a tax system, then you have to accept the enforcement of tax debt.

  4. 5 January 2011 21:45

    I have always got my tax return in on time and paid all tax due within the time allowed. so I would not be the recipient of a nasty threatening letter.

    However, why should the shoe not be on the other foot. If it is OK to send these type of letters to non/late payers why should you not expect to receive similar letters regarding your service?

  5. With all the talk of bankers posing moral hazard (I am not a banker) why don't we have a similar discussion about the inherent moral hazard in the public sector where a poor service and failing customers has absolutely no consequences and the incentive to provide an improved service is negligible?

  6. I agree with 09:31, we keep hearing about the fight against tax avoidance but how about some indication that steps are being taken to deal with the shoddy management within HMRC.

  7. Can you imagine anyone WANTING to assume management responsibility for HMRC? It is a failing organisation, rapidly heading for failed. Anyone who could change things is quite comfy in their own 1st class travelling,lunch attending,consultant hiring dream world. They have no shame, and no fear of being sacked, cos no sane person would want to replace them

  8. Everyone keeps saying how poor HMRC is, but here we have an example of them doing something that has actually worked well. Far from sending a "nasty threatening letter" (21:45), they have adopted a more subtle approach and got a good result. Well done HMRC. Yes, they get a lot of things wrong, but this is not one of them.

  9. 18:18, I understand your point but I am afraid HMRC has a long way to go before any congratulations are due.

  10. I totally agree there DavidB...

    and if you're not happy with how the tax works? well there's a simple option in a quote from the founder of Walmart:
    "A customer can fire anyone from the company director's down, simply by spending their money...elsewhere"
    Or to put it simply...if you dont like it, emigrate.