Is the Tax Man Human?
The pro-active support and advice that HMRC has given to the public in general and to business people in particular over recent years via their customer facing staff has been excellent. The courses that they have run have been extremely useful and most informative. They have been a God send for many people starting up in business, especially if it is that person’s first ever time as a self-employed person or as a business newly employing other people.
By taking stands at exhibitions and seminars HMRC has been humanised. A modern government department that is keen to assist, advise and support has been displayed rather than one aimed at catching people out, penalising businesses and increasing revenue by a system of fines.
HMRC has done a grand job of educating business people as to what it required of them.
Why, oh why therefore scrap proactive face to face advice and retreat to offering advice via the internet and a web site? I know it is down to cost. I’m not totally naïve.
We saw the face to face support and advice offered by BusinessLink scrapped in favour of all such government assistance coming in the form of an all encompassing website that holds all the information about business that anyone could possible want (supposedly). The fact that it is unwieldy and almost impossible to use is dismissed. The idea that someone might just want to ask another person a question is not considered. It was a regressive step.
Now all face to face pro-active advice offered by HMRC is to be scrapped and be replaced again by an internet based service.
Until now your average “one man band” start-up business person could have gone on a useful course to learn how to register their business or determine what tax they might have to pay. They could have approached the friendly HMRC face at the local business drop in session to ask how their partner’s situation might affect them in going into business. Now, do you really think that they are going to be able to find that information on the HMRC website? I don’t mean to suggest that we are not a bright enough society to deal with finding out something for ourselves. We can – if we can find that information in the on-line jungle.
To many people HMRC is scary. They are the bad guys. They take our money from us.
Having a human face on HMRC has really helped business. Shame that it has been scrapped.