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Freedom of choice

Feb 18, 2009, 05:58 AM
Authors : Daniel
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Post date : Feb 18, 2009, 05:58 AM

In an episode of the TV show Family Guy there's a sketch in which a man argues with a mule about whether Kevin Bacon was in Footloose.

He wasn't, insists the beast, who quickly resorts to yelling "No! No!" over and over until he breaks into a fit of aggressive braying. (Check out the clip on YouTube before the Fox network has it taken down.)

This behaviour is not unlike that of HMRC, I feel.

The department stubbornly refuses to reconsider its insistence on calling taxpayers 'customers'.

I broached the issue (again!) with the press office this morning, and was told that the term is valid because the Oxford English Dictionary's definition of customer is along the lines of 'a person with whom one does business'.

Well, I don't have the full OED available, but I do have the popular compact edition, which is online.

This is its definition of customer: 'noun 1 a person who buys goods or services from a shop or business. 2 a person or thing of a specified kind that one has to deal with: he’s a tough customer'.

In the Revenue-public relationship, then, who's buying what?

I, for one, ain't buying the department's mewling claim that 'as a monopoly provider we see a greater obligation to offer high standards of service where (sic) the customer (sic) cannot walk away'.

Are HMRC suggesting that we, as customers, can choose not to pay taxes?


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