So there I was, catching up with an old friend when our conversation once again turned to tax related matters (much to my personal glee). Not the tax conversations of recent times however, which normally take the path of ‘grumble grumble Google grumble’. My friend had recently received a letter from HMRC, and upon opening it, somewhat timidly at the sheer horror of what might lie within, she noted two words that she was certainly not expecting.
And a healthy one at that. The conversation soon digressed to the various brands of shoes she was planning to spend her new found wealth on. I began to dwell on her recollection of the rebate (possibly my subconscious trying to save me from a conversation about shoes by clinging on to a conversation to which I’m much better suited) and it became clear she held the taxman as a momentary saviour to her pump shoe plight.
The taxman. An entire branch of the government personified as an individual who, lets face it, would hardly be the top of your Facebook friends list. I don’t doubt that during the course of our lifetimes, we have all had an altercation with this man for better or worse. But for all of our combined experiences, what does he look like?
Many people’s initial description is one similar to that of Gollum, of J.R.R. Tolkien fame. I don’t doubt that these individuals have suffered some form of financial loss at the hands of this creature, who after collecting the fruits of their labour retreated back to his cave eagerly stroking his victory and hissing ‘my preciousssss’ at anyone who may dare appeal.
On the other hand, we have my friend. Shoe closet sufficiently expanded. She would be the first to describe him as a pleasant, good looking gentleman with a slightly golden halo glimmering above his bowler hat.
Some of us may recall Hector, the Tax Inspector. Hector made his appearance to us in 1995, voiced by Alec Guinness, to publicise awareness of self-assessment tax returns and to put a face on the Inland Revenue. By all accounts Hector was a success, receiving much of the credit for the targets reached by the Revenue during his reign.
Perhaps what is needed today is not ominous TV advertising, or slightly creepy monotone radio advertisements reminding us of self assessment dates, but an updated portrayal of the taxman that isn’t automatically accompanied by the sensation of unjust guilt.
How would you portray the taxman?
If like me, you have an active imagination, I would be delighted to receive your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org, (or artwork if you really want to impress me) on this matter. Who knows, we could be responsible for the creation of a new-age taxman for future generations.