Well, yes, obviously

The last thing HMRC needs to be is a digital powerhouse

Digital provision means less labour employed. Not what someone paid by the taxman’s union is going to want, is it?

This is cute too:

And I do not think that dealing with HMRC is the remotest bit like shopping on line (which they suggest it is), which most of us only do when we already have a very good idea of what we want and the only decision variable left is price. I know that because when it comes to grocery shopping on line there has not been the expected revolution, because the list of options is just too hard to handle and the outcomes too unreliable to depend upon, and tax is much more complicated than that. Which is precisely why people will still want to call in person, as I do at the supermarket.

I don’t do it therefore nobody does:

Some 20% of adults now do all or most of their grocery shopping online – confirming the UK’s leadership in online grocery retailing in Europe.


40 thoughts on “Well, yes, obviously”

  1. Ah yes …
    Howzabout simply answering telephones or doing sane email, joined up admin, and a slew of other stuff

    The average low wage self employed person has at least one grisly anecdote about something going wrong and jobsworths creating mayhem…

    Sometimes they really get it wrong

  2. But he has advised hundreds of people over his 35 year career, so knows more than anyone. In his view, a partner at an accountancy practice couldn’t hope to rival that kind of experience. (Yes, he seriously said that.)

  3. Main reason for not shopping for groceries online is that many people like to see and feel the melons, choose their own cuts of meat and so on, in person, rather than trusting somebody else to pick them out. Doesn’t really apply to financial matters.

    The supermarket sites are very useful for checking prices and offers beforehand though.

  4. You get put away for feeling the melons these days.

    As for there being too many options…either he’s a doddery old bastard or it’s the same elitist Leftist sneering against competition and choice, that ordinary folks can’t choose between four brands of washing powder and the State should instead supply one, perfect in every regard and without waste.

  5. His comments about finding online grocery shopping too hard to handle reminds me of Dr Eoin Clarke’s (the lefty serial misuser of economic statistics) infamous tweet that he found the choice of coffee in Starbucks too complicated to deal with.

  6. I’m happy to agree with Ritchie that the percentage of people now doing their grocery shopping online is insignificant.

    It’s the same percentage as his professorship…

  7. Shinsei1967

    It is exactly the same as Dr. Eoin Clarke’s vision (He being one of four people including Murphy who have ‘blocked’ me on Twitter) – it’s the Soviet Union revisited – anything you like so long as it is what the state decrees. Will be interesting to see how they sell this in the 21st century but there you go.


    ‘and tax is much more complicated than that.’ – which suggests simplification of the tax system would be useful but of course he has not interest in such an outcome……

  8. “Main reason for not shopping for groceries online is that many people like to see and feel the melons, choose their own cuts of meat and so on, in person, rather than trusting somebody else to pick them out. Doesn’t really apply to financial matters.”

    Exactly. Bricks and mortar is about stuff you want right now (no-one is going to wait for tampons to be delivered), stuff you can touch/feel/look at (melons, jumpers) or where you provide an experience (e.g. I still go to Jessops for the expertise).

    It certainly isn’t about range. Amazon sells a gazillion DVDs. Much more than HMV. We’re down to one store selling CDs and DVDs in every town now because there just isn’t much of a market for known products (and my guess is that HMVs days are numbered).

  9. “It’s the Soviet Union revisited – anything you like so long as it is what the state decrees. ”

    And you’d better like it, or else.

  10. Have you seen this idea that the self employed are going to report their ingoings and outgoings every quarter online? Fuck that. There’s enough bloody paperwork running a business as it is without having to wrestle with another level of bureaucracy every 3 months. Do they think we have nothing to do but fill their fucking forms in?

  11. When HMRC fix their online assessment site so I don’t have to delete every hyphen, comma, colon, quote mark, percent symbol, newline from the text boxes, I’ll be happy. WhyTF is ‘50% share of 10-12 Fred Street, MyTown’ “invalid input”???

  12. “When HMRC fix their online assessment site”

    …So I can enter a tax return of any description, I’ll be happy mollified. I haven’t been able to do this since they started, which is a PITA as I spend most of my time out of the UK.

  13. JGH>

    The immediate ‘why’ I can answer: they’re doing a shitty job sanitising inputs to prevent SQL injection. The bigger ‘why?’ is about the failure to do IT stuff right.

  14. @ Jim
    I have to file my VAT returns quarterly and have done so for a dozen years: it’s been “online only” for about three years now.
    Admittedly the “flat-rate scheme” made life quite a bit easier, but it’s still a quarterly chore.
    Extending it to guys below the VAT threshold would be ludicrous and only benefit Murphy’s paymasters in that it would cost more to check the returns than any tax evasion that could be picked up.

  15. I see an opening for a new supermarket, online for now but possibly with a physical branch in Hampstead or Brighton.

    It will offer one brand of every item, no more no less. People confused by choice, such as Murphy, can choose to shop there instead. Though that of course would also involve a choice, and thus sinful.

  16. Personally I think the fleets of small Tesco/Asda/Sainsburys/Ocado vans you see driving around now are pretty convincing evidence that there _has_ been a revolution in grocery shopping.

  17. Not just HMRC I’ve had some headaches dealing with the national statistics office before.
    Once sent in a couple of forms together and was then chased for some of them, when speaking to them and explaining I posted them in one envelope they happily admitted that the person who received it would have taken out the form they were responsible for and binned the rest.
    I did visit there when I was in college to do some research, best staff canteen I’ve ever been to and they had a bar, though I would be surprised if they still have that.

  18. @john77: I do quarterly VAT already, and thats bad enough. But its just a list of payments in and payments out, and form that takes about 2 minutes to fill in online. Expecting me to detail exactly what are all the various payments I make and income I receive for accounting purposes (which is the idea – taxpayer gives all their income/expenditure and HMRC issue a tax bill at the end of the year) is ludicrous. I pay an accountant to draw up my accounts at the end of the year, taking into account all the rules on capital allowances, repairs and renewals etc etc. How are HMRC going to have clue whether a payment from me to builder is him building a new barn (no capital allowance) or a repair to an existing one (100% allowable against income)? Whether something is a capital item or a non allowable expense? How will they know if a lorry load of readimix concrete is to replace an existing damaged concrete yard, or build a brand new one? Either they are going to replace my accountant for free, or are expecting me to do his work by filling out some massively complicated online form where all money in and out is allocated by the relevant criteria. I know which it will be.

    And the new rules on CGT are horrendous too – instead of having to the end of January after the end of the tax year to calculate and pay one’s CGT they are now expecting it within 30 days of receiving the sale proceeds.

    Fuckers. If they think I’m voting Conservative again if this is the way they treat small businesses they can go piss up a rope.

  19. HMRC is a train wreck that in the current regime is unfixable.

    Their only hope is to increase the use of inspection teams.

    What they should do is to simplify the tax law. Warm pies, anyone? How warm is warm?

    Then they should create an expert system that could deal with online queries.

    But no Chancellor would simplify tax law – none of them that I can remember understood anything about tax law.

    And as we know, the State and computers are merely a multi billion pound gift to the US economy.

  20. @ Jim
    They haven’t told me about this.
    Of course I could handle it (I keep a spreadsheet, to save me having to remember stuff), but most small self-employed people would find it a nightmare.
    CGT – do not panic in large friendly letters unless you are a buy-to-let landlord – the 30-day limit only applies to sales of houses that are not your principal residence.

  21. Not just the warmth of your pies

    I remember some confusion when we found out that intrastat didn’t have a code for fruit filled pies and had to ask for guidance on completing the return, one of those very serious conversations that looking back must have seemed farcical to anyone else listening.
    Good to see that the temporary measure is still going strong 20 yrs later.
    Our tax lecturer always said that HMRC obsession over details could make pontiffs discussing angels on the head of a pin seem like a rational discussion in comparison and could drive grown men to tears of laughter, incredubility or frustration or a mix of all three.

  22. How can HMRC demand quarterly returns when allowances and taxes, etc are annual? I’m no businessman, large or small, but something is strange here.

  23. And what about you, theolddullgreenfascist? Are you still above ground or by now some scrap of ectoplasm wafting from blog to blog like a disagreeable miasma?

  24. because the list of options is just too hard to handle and the outcomes too unreliable to depend upon

    What? 95% of my shopping is the same old crap, as per the “favourites” list on my online account, I just run though and tick what I need and then a cursory glance at the latest BOGOFs. Simples. 10 minutes max.

    To think that schlepping down to the local supermarket trailing CO2 and NOX in my emissions cheating diesel to get the same old stuff week in week out was better?

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