Opinion: The Big Question - Is it possible to win public affection for the Inland Revenue? - The Inland Revenue has created a senior communications post on offer as part of a general drive to prove that the organisation is becoming more customer-oriented

Robert Blower

Robert Blower



Lambeth Council



’The IR is now responsible for enforcing the minimum wage, so the

potentially exploited section of the UK workforce at least may be

persuaded, in time, to regard the service as a champion of their rights.

For most stakeholders, the IR’s role in bringing ’fat cat tax frauds’ to

justice is another positive.



As its portfolio broadens, with the merging of the Contributions Agency,

the IR will be reviewing its culture and traditional brand values.

Optimists may see an opportunity to build new values, perhaps based on

proactively promoting fairness in society.’





Denise Annett



London School of Economics



’I think the IR has a strong image, but nobody much likes the

taxman.



That could change to some extent by improving communications. The tax

form, which is everyone’s personal experience of the Inland Revenue, has

got better, but it is far too long and still complicated - it could be

simplified much more. If I was doing the job, I would want the public

image to be one of an organisation that is seen to be fair, and is

helpful - and this would mean real changes in the way the organisation

functions so that it can help to create this image. In fact I don’t

think most people have any idea of what the Inland Revenue does apart

from tax forms, so there’s an urgent communications job to be done

here.’





Esther Kaposi



Powergen



’When I worked with the Inland Revenue several years ago, trying to make

tax forms easier to understand and fill in, they almost seemed to take

pride in operating the most complex tax system in the world, rather than

focusing on making things easier and clearer for the taxpayer. And there

needs to be recognition that making things easier and simpler for

taxpayers might actually increase tax revenues The Inland Revenue

certainly needs to communicate effectively, so the new appointment

should help with that.



There’s a need for taxpayers to understand how their taxes contribute to

education, health and so on. Canadian tax forms give a detailed

explanation of how the money is spent, for example, and we could do the

same here.’





Jeff Jeffery



Gallaher Ltd



’The tax man could start by endearing himself to smokers and the UK

tobacco industry. Tax revenues are being undermined because of smuggled

cigarettes and true consumption is rising. One in four cigarettes smoked

in the UK has been brought in from outside. Smugglers clearly have no

concerns about selling cigarettes to children. If the Inland Revenue

wants affection, the Government should accept that its tobacco taxation

policy is not working, a fundamental review is required in the longer

term. In the short term it should reduce tobacco taxes. Even pounds 1 a

pack reduction would still leave the UK well out of line with its

continental neighbours. But then smokers would be more likely to smoke

UK duty paid products and the taxman would benefit.’



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