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.

Friday, 25 May 2012

I Am Not A Customer, I Am A Taxpayer

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.

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."
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:
"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:

To stop HM Revenue & Customs calling Taxpayers Customers

Tax does have to be taxing.

Professional Cover Against the Threat of Costly TAX and VAT Investigations

What is TAXWISE?

TAXWISE is a tax-fee protection service that will pay up to £75,000 towards your accountant's fees in the event of an HM Revenue & Customs full enquiry or dispute.

To find out more, please use this link Taxwise

Tax Investigation for Dummies, by Nick Morgan, provides a good and easy to read guide for anyone caught up in an HMRC tax investigation. A must read for any Self Assessment taxpayer.

Click the link to read about: Tax Investigation for Dummies

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  1. THANKS for that, I have just signed up.

    At least one opportunity to register one's dissatisfaction.

  2. I too get annoyed by being called a customer by HMRC, just as I do when my Local Authority calls me a Customer.

    I think any one of three terms would be appropriate to replace the term customer:-

    a) Tax Payer.

    b) Service User.

    c) Victim.

    Of these, (a) is my prefered term, (b) would be good providing HMRC actually provided a service, which all too often they don't.
    Option (c) is the one that I often feel is most appropriate for ordinary taxpayers, most of the time if the stories on this website and in various newspapers and in many MSM outlets are true.

  3. I think this post has pretty much got HMRCs "customer" centric strategy to a tee!!!


    Taxpayer Centric Strategy doesn't have quite the same ring!

  4. It's a pacesetter thing.Maybe they call everyone customers now so that when pacesetter is scrapped (new government, new version of 'lean')at great expense to the taxpayer they think you won't notice because you are called customers now!

  5. Ah.....but calling taxpayers customers.....also allows members of the SCS to call themselves " Business Heads " of individual "Business Streams". It sort of makes them feel all modern and, well.....,businesslike.

    Because they absolutely HATE thinking of themselves as public servants.

  6. I'm not a fan of the term at all, but it does make some sense. Firstly, not all people that HMRC deals with are taxpayers - not only those who are in receipt of tax credits etc - although they will still pay VAT on things they purchase, you might argue the money is just being recycled - but also naughty people and businesses who are refusing to pay their taxes.
    Plus it's a handy catch-all to cover the individuals and entities that different parts of the department used to refer to as employers, traders, etc.

    Client might be better, except that's the word agents use.

    Apparently customer still works from a dictionary definition, but it feels wrong.

    It also represents a poverty of ambition on behalf of the bossese at HMRC - HMRC should have a higher aspiration than business, that of customer service.

    But on the other hand, it does start to lay the psychological groundwork for privatisation.

    1. "....but also naughty people and businesses who are refusing to pay their taxes.'

      THEN this people are fukcing CROOKS and should be called 'two-faced lying shitebags crooked arsewipes', and not 'customers'...

      next, perhaps a 'rogues gallery'?

    2. No.......they're called self-employed.

  7. I am very surprised that Ken has not posted something about the the damning "people engagement in HMRC" report. It's a joint effort by ExCom, ARC and PCS. And it's damning!

    1. please could you send me a link to it? Thanks

    2. Can we all join in, or is it like all HMRC communications... unfathomable?

      HMRC staff, as helpful and considerate as ever.

      two parrallel universes.

  8. To Anonymous 28 May 2012 12:03

    But at the start of a check nothing's proven - call them customers at first, then "Dear Crook"? when things are clearer..?