Closing the tax gap

 In Dave Hartnett

If I asked you to close the door what would you do? Most reasonable people would shut the door… well you might tell me to get up off my arse and close it myself – but stick with me on this one: for most people closing the door would result in a door that was completely shut. But this is not the case at HMRC as the above clip shows. Here HMRC boss Dave Hartnett gives his rather unusual definition of what ‘close’ means.

And why is this important? Well whenever you get into conflict with HMRC you will always come into this question: what would a reasonable person do? But what HMRC defines as reasonable is very different from what the rest of the world thinks of as reasonable. If they can’t use simple words like ‘close’ in a way that’s understood by most people, what hope have this team got of creating a more simple and effective tax system?

None, what so ever.

Here is the House of Commons dialogue:

Mr Tyrie: You say in your mission statement that you will close the tax gap. You are not actually going to close the tax gap, are you? You are going to reduce the tax gap; isn’t that right?

Dave Hartnett: We had much debate on this, Mr Tyrie, as to whether “close” means close so the door is aligned with the frame, or whether it is the process of closing, and it is the second of those that we are doing.

Mr Tyrie: That is another classic Sir Humphrey reply, if I may say so.

Dave Hartnett: That was the debate we had.

Mr Tyrie: Out of the top drawer, if I may say so, above the doorway. Impressive…

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