Something that\’s just occured to me about Ritchie and the number of taxmen

As we know R. Murphy, our favourite retired acountant from Wandsworth, is often employed by the PCS union to tell us why there should be many more taxmen hired.

The PCS union of course being the union for taxmen.

I have no particular problem with this: unions are supposed to work for the benefit of their members and hiring some shill to make bad arguments for your case is part and parcel of that game.

However, it has just occured to me (yes, I know, about 3 years slow here) that there\’s a bit of background that isn\’t being fully explained here.

A few years back Gordon Brown mandated the merging of Customs and Excise and the taxmen to create HMRC. The cynic in me at the time thought that this was really a way to give the taxman the breaking and entering powers that the customs man (and the reason VAT was given to customs to administer was the same) has always had and that no one rationally would want the income tax man to have.

But the stated reason was greater efficiency. Which leads to the thought that under the Great Gordon Brown plan there should be a decline in both the budget and the manpower of the combined offices. This is what greater efficiency means, after all, being able to do the same for less resource consumption.

So what we\’ve actually got here is not a series of complaints about the cyclical swings between the priorities of governments of a different political hue. It\’s not \”Bastard Tories firing taxmen\”. What we\’ve actually got is a much longer running fight against the structural change introduced by Labour.

Stick all the taxmen under one roof and one set of powers and we\’ll need fewer of them and to spend less on them.

Brown may or may not have been right: but that is what PCS and thus Ritchie are fighting against. It\’s the lashing out of a bureaucracy against structural change, nothing more and nothing less.

7 thoughts on “Something that\’s just occured to me about Ritchie and the number of taxmen”

  1. So Much For Subtlety

    As Yes Minister points out, merging government bodies never produces the desired efficiency savings. On the contrary, it gives the opportunity for a new layer of senior management to co-ordinate the whole mess.

    But perhaps Brown was such a fool he thought it might work that way.

  2. Unfortunately, Gordon Brown’s merger of Inland Revenue and Customs and Excise was predicated upon efficiencies (removal of duplicated functions) as well as greater reliance upon computer technology to deliver the taxes needed to fund government spending….sorry ‘investment’ with a smaller, more centralised workforce.

    However, he failed to do the one thing which would have allowed the above to actually succeed (despite spanner throwing by civil servants and their unions), which was any form of simplification of the tax code.

    Equally, as part of the merger, numerous posts had to be cut either through redundancies or early retirement. Given the circumstances, offering early retirement to a senior inspector is like offering a juice steak to a wolf. They are going to bite your hand off.

    So by about 2005/2006 all of the senior staff at HMRC have retired or taken redundancy and gone into ‘private practice’ (i.e. gamekeeper turned poacher) and you’re left with an organization which has lots of lovely call centres who can answer simple questions on how to fill in a self assessment return or get a replacement VAT form sent out, but no real depth.

    Then comes that ‘Bust’ part of ‘no more Tory Boom and Bust’ that Gordon had abolished. All of a sudden business drops off and tax rates start going higher (especially VAT at 20%).

    So you’ve now got a substantial increase in ‘the shadow economy’ and lots of business where you can save a bit of money by doing a ‘discount for cash’ (wink wink).

    Just when you need experienced inspectors in local offices to prowl the streets looking for unregistered businesses, fly-by-night operators and those working for cash you don’t have them.

    The experience has been expunged and the local offices have been closed, oh and that simplified tax code – promised by Gideon’s Office of Tax Simplification is just a mirage of a shining castle on the hill.

    So in fairness to the PCS, they have a point.

  3. Brown, us usual, created an absolute mess.

    The two depts don’t fit, they employ different (although equally obnoxious ) methods, using different laws applied to different circs.

    The Customs were a psuedo-military caste (an acquaintance attended the funeral of a customs officer who died on the job of a heart attack. Hundreds turned out and their were more uniforms and flags than at a Nuremberg rally)more used to crashing into premises/boats etc than the sort of small investigations the Revenue used to do (when they had Inspectors who knew what they were doing). Because they were used to throwing their weight about in a nasty fashion with business people the whole approach of the Customs was not suitable for the Revenue.

    The reverse was also true with hopeless attempts to send Revenue staff out with 2 days training on VAT law. The declining number of offices and the general chaos caused by the useless management had Revenue people being sent from one end of the UK to the other to conduct investigations etc that they were totally out of their depth with.

    To add to that Bottler then decided to split the border control duties of the customs off into the UKBA nonsense–prob as a result of watching the American nazis and their TSA and Fatherland security depts. That was another completly pointless round of huge expenditure and equally large mess.

    Ultimatly they intend that there will only be 9 tax offices for the whole of England. One for each of the 9 satrap “regions” that the scum of the EU intend to split us up into to finally kill our national identity.(That is still in progress Tim, under our gerbil-faced “PM” just as strongly as under NuLiebour–you should look into it). 9 offices may seem like an economy of scale but they will be utterly usesless and full of half-trained cannon fodder. Forget about getting your tax problems sorted out.

    If money is to be saved the best way is to scrap the lot and ask people to donate 10% of their income voluntarily. IF people like what is being done with their money they probably would donate. As soon as the political scum start buying say, spy drones to watch us all, then the donations stop.

  4. “…..being able to do the same for less resource consumption.”

    Or being able to do more for the same resource consumption.

    Which makes Richie’s trouser front stand out like a tent.

  5. “…..being able to do the same for less resource consumption.”

    Or being able to do more for the same resource consumption.

    Which makes Richie’s trouser front stand up like a tent.

  6. Bloody erratic dago internet. Never sure whether anything’s actually gone or not, pages reload so slowly.

  7. The stupidity of bureaucrats: if the revenue want to increase their numbers, they should encourage rather than discourage self-employment/service companies, because more people filing returns means more inspectors.

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