Yesterday closed out the tax year, so it’s timely that I share this letter purportedly sent by the UK’s Inland Revenue to a taxpayer, Mr Addison, who was obviously distressed — shall we say — over the value he was receiving for his tax dollar pound. Perhaps you can identify with Mr Addison … either as a taxpayer or ratepayer.

Of course, you’ll only be reading the tax collector’s side of this dispute, but I don’t think you’ll have any trouble reconstructing the taxpayer’s perspective. Is he or isn’t he going to pay?!

As printed in The Guardian

Dear Mr Addison,

I am writing to you to express our thanks for your more than prompt reply to our latest communication, and also to answer some of the points you raise. I will address them, as ever, in order.

Firstly, I must take issue with your description of our last as a “begging letter”. It might perhaps more properly be referred to as a “tax demand”. This is how we at the Inland Revenue have always, for reasons of accuracy,  traditionally referred to such documents.

Secondly, your frustration at our adding to the “endless stream of crapulent whining and panhandling vomited daily through the letterbox on to the doormat” has been  noted. However, whilst I have naturally not seen the other letters to which you refer I would cautiously suggest that their being from “pauper councils, Lombardy pirate banking houses and pissant gas-mongerers” might indicate that your decision to “file them next to the toilet in case of emergencies” is at best a little ill-advised. In common with my own organisation, it is unlikely that the senders of these letters do see you as a “lackwit bumpkin” or, come to that, a “sodding  charity”. More likely they see you as a citizen of Great Britain, with a responsibility to contribute to the upkeep of the nation as a whole.

Which brings me to my next point. Whilst there may be some spirit of truth in your assertion that the taxes you pay “go to shore up the canker-blighted, toppling folly that is the Public Services”, a moment’s rudimentary calculation ought to disabuse you of the notion that the government in any way expects you to “stump up for the whole damned party” yourself. The estimates you provide for the Chancellor’s disbursement of the funds levied by taxation, whilst colourful, are, in fairness, a little off the mark. Less than you seem to imagine is spent on “junkets for Bunterish lickspittles” and “dancing whores” whilst far more than you have accounted for is allocated to, for example, “that box-ticking facade of a university system.”

A couple of technical points arising from direct queries:

1. The reason we don’t simply write “Muggins” on the envelope has to do with the vagaries of the postal system;

2. You can rest assured that “sucking the very marrow of those with nothing else to give” has never been considered as a practice because even if  the Personal Allowance didn’t render it irrelevant, the sheer medical logistics involved would make it financially unviable.

I trust this has helped. In the meantime, whilst I would not in any way wish to influence your decision one way or the other, I ought to point out that even if  you did choose to “give the whole foul jamboree up and go and live in India ” you would still owe us the money.

Please send it to us by Friday.

Yours sincerely,
H J Lee
Customer Relations
Inland Revenue

Ah … what a joy if our Councils’ rates collectors could be so eloquent in their ratepayer correspondence! By the way, all you Mr Addisons out there, as well as those of you who believe local government does require some funding, budget season is underway at our various Councils. Soon you’ll be hearing from your favourite local and regional authority, asking for your views. Please respond.

Tom Belford

P.S. Thanks to Quentin, my eyes to the world beyond Hawke’s Bay, for locating this gem.

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1 Comment

  1. Would this by any chance be the same Brittish taxman who purchased a disused granite quarry in Cornwall and turned it into a black pudding factory?

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