As loyal readers are well aware, nothing irks HMRC staff and non HMRC alike more than the use of the word "customer" to describe the taxpayer.
Customers have a choice about where they buy their goods and services, taxpayers do not!
It is therefore refreshing to see a well reasoned critique that nails the lies behind the official HMRC propaganda, that would have us believe that the "C" word is being used for all the "right" reasons. Mike Truman writes on Taxation:
"That they haven’t already done so, and persist in calling us customers, suggests that something else is behind the use of the term.He goes on to recommend that people sign up to a petition on the government epetition site that calls for the "C" word to be abolished wrt HMRC:
While it is only recently that HMRC have explicitly defended it on the basis that it encourages officers to think of ‘customer service’, the use of such management-speak has been rampant for some time in the department’s strategy documents.
Taxpayers are split into ‘customer streams’, the levels of ‘customer service’ are analysed and reported on, and software developers look at ‘customer journeys’ through HMRC’s online services... I’m sorry, their ‘online offering’...
The justification for this was that it was a much-needed change in approach for HMRC staff, and would result in a significantly better level of service for taxpayers and claimants.
It clearly hasn’t, though that may be due in large part to the fact that the department is trying to make do with far fewer staff. However, there is also a fundamental flaw in the concept.
HMRC seem to have bought the line from business that what they want to do is provide great service to their customers.
Actually what business wants to do is to make profit from its customers. That involves giving the customers who pay the most the best levels of service, while trying to automate the process for lower-value customers, thus stripping out costs.
It is no surprise that in a ‘customer-centric’ HMRC, the one area getting rave reviews is the Large Business Service, with the High Net Worth Unit beginning to garner grudging praise as well.
Nor is it any surprise that the average taxpayers (and their advisers) get a process-driven level of service from call centres – they simply are not worth putting more resources into because they don’t produce as much revenue.
What businesses also want to do is to maximise the amount of money they get from each customer. Is this why HMRC started talking a while ago about getting the ‘maximum’ amount of tax, rather than the ‘right’ amount of tax?
Because, for all that Andrew Tyrie MP cleverly finessed the issue at the CTA address by saying that the right amount of tax was the maximum amount of tax, the two concepts are fundamentally different."
"HM Revenue & Customs has the policy of calling Tax Payers Customers. If tax payers were in fact Customers they could shop elsewhere when they receive a poor level of Service from HMRC."Sign the petition here:
Tax does have to be taxing.
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