Thursday 26 July 2012

A Nation of Spies

Dictatorships survive by encouraging their citizens to spy and inform on their fellow citizens. Orwell's 1984 foresaw this, and wrote of the children informing on their parents to Big Brother.

Step forward HMRC, which clearly has been reading 1984 and is now encouraging children to inform on those that they suspect of not paying "their fair share of tax".

HMRC has set up teaching modules to guide children through the maze of pay as you earn and National Insurance contributions.

Fair enough!

However some of the modules (which can be downloaded from HMRC's website) teach kids as young as 11 about paying their "fair share" of tax.

What the fark is "fair share"?

How is a child, or an adult, meant to know what someone-else's "fair share" of tax is meant to be?

HMRC makes use of video, games, facts and quizzes to “help make teaching financial capability and citizenship issues relevant and engaging”.

Pass the sick bag!

The Telegraph notes one module (“tax responsibilities of a good citizen”) which is meant to "help" teenagers “understand the obligations if being a good citizen and discuss what should happen to hose who are not prepared to work under such obligations”.

One lesson plan – targeted at 14 to 16 year olds – requires students to “discuss whether it is good to pay the tax we do, considering the benefits we receive. If it is good, then why do people try not to pay?

 It continues:
 “Show class the remaining factfile slides on tax evasion. What do students think of those who refuse to pay tax or try and defraud the benefits system? “Can they think of any example they may have heard of in their local area?” 

 A further “plenary session” asks:
 “What do students now think about paying taxes? In what other ways can we contribute to working together for a better society? “What do students think about people who try to avoid paying taxes? Is it a victimless crime? What kind of penalties should such people be given when they are caught?
David Green, director of Civitas, is unimpressed:
"This sounds a bit too 'Big Brotherish'. People 'in their local area' are most likely to be parents or close relatives. Turning children into state spies is un-British.

The state should fear the people, not the people fear the state!

Tax does have to be taxing.

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  1. This has been in the pipeline for some time and its not about "shopping" taxpayers, its to educate youngsters about how taxation works. The need for this education is desperately required as the education they get about something so fundamental to their work life is currently non existent.

    Oh yes and i'm one of the HMRC staff who will be providing the education and I certainly will not be trying to get them to tell me about avoidance.

  2. You muppet!

    The Tax Responsibilities of a Good Citizen.

    What about The Tax Responsibilities of a Good Tax Department then?!

    Not unlike Gauke, you should get your own house in order before trying to manipulate others.

    Also the answers you get to the question on P2 about "who pays the most tax and who pays the least tax" should be entertaining.
    Wonder if any of them research well enough to mention "off the payroll employees of HMRC" never mind most of the BBC, Bankers and others too numerous for HMRC to get to grips with.

    Was the offshore banking tax-loss $23trillion dollars or have a missed a zero out.

    Damn PaceSetter Evangelists.

  3. Thanks for your personal criticism and worthy comments. Noted and ignored.

    Do you really think that school age children are aware of any of the items you mentioned above? No the "tax matters" programme is to try and educate the basics of income tax only.

    1. Correct me oh enlightened one but does not HMRC have 14-16 year olds as part of the target population?
      Does this age group not see news headlines e.g. the row over Jimmy Carr's avoided tax or the BBC's employee's evaded tax all with the concept of "offshore" applied?
      You should have an enlightening time when you get the opportunity to stick your neck out in front of schoolkids.
      I know from experience how aware even 11 year olds are and that luckily any decent teacher will prevent you from trying to fool the audience.
      If "tax matters" is to try and educate the basics of income tax only - your words, then obviously you are only looking at a small part of the problem.
      And yes I do think/know that kids of school age i.e. up to 16 yrs or so will be aware. They at least are streetwise.
      They also are adept at aanything IT based and know how to spot a bargain on e-bay!

  4. I really do think that most adult ( non accountants ) are capable of grasping the concept of a " fair share ".

    This constant self interested twisting really does you no favours, Ken.

  5. HMRC providing tax education, that's a good one. They will be appearing live at the apollo next.

    1. LOL!

      Muppets, comedians, documentaries, educational(how to rig interest rates or undetake miselling without getting caught) what next, real life drama at a Pacesetter meeting, history (revolving doors).

    2. HMRC should educate its own staff first before attempting to brainwash schoolchildren into "compliance" before they even have to pay tax.
      FFS what next, NHS lessons on the benefits of euthanasia, National Front lectures on how to be a good immigrant, they'll have Paul Gray back shortly headlining a presentation about on-line security.
      I detect a new reality programme in the making, perhaps a morality type show "Avoid or Evade"! It will be a real-life family based show examining the moral issues around parents earning cash and also claiming benefits to which they are not entitled. Contestants will have to justify their choice of avoid or evade any tax etc and their children will be enouraged to earn cash bonuses by shopping their parents on the special snitchonmomndad hotline (calls cost £2.50+VAT/30 secs.) But wait, no-one can get through, damn, back to the whiteboard!
      Get back to basics HMRC, its almost too late, the split is coming.