Sunday, 12 September 2010

Apologising for a good tax system?

Dave Hartnett is the country's top tax collector. As such he decided to tell us that there was no need for an apology for the six million errors in tax calculations. He was quite clear on the matter. He "saw no need" to apologise as tax reconciliation was a routine measure.There were no blunders and no IT failure. It seems it was just one of those things, or should I say 5.7 million of those things where "reconciliation" is needed. I pay PAYE and I also pay as someone who is self-employed. I write down all my income and expenditure, send the details to an accountant and wait for my bill. Maybe life is harder for some people and corrections are required.

However a great need for reconciliation was brought about by miscalculations made by HMRC tax officials. Now in my book miscalculations are errors. Why shouldn't you apologise for errors? Well one reason is if your motive is for a greater good. They can't use that one. They are human so maybe Mr Hartnett is being asked to apologise for being human - no that's not a good answer either. Well maybe he has a good excuse but I can't see it. If you can then let me know.

If there is a good reason to withold apologies then you have to explain why one was given later in the day. I don't mind if corrections are made after something has been said in error. I am now not sure if a reconciliation is a proper way to conduct the process of tax collection or whether it is a means to cause distress to taxpayers (this was the reason for the apology). It's all very well apologising but it may mean that the whole system needs changing.

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  1. Perhaps he just needs to learn how to use a dictionary?
    error and miscalculation are two ways of saying the same thing.

  2. I suspect that he has a dictionary and he is taking his instructions from a higher authority. The word "nobbled" comes to mind.