I note commentary in Taxation approving of ‘High Tech’ solutions. This would encompass (I gather) everyone signing up to the ‘Cloud’.
Technology is wonderful. BUT:
Some points. They are meant for debate, and I certainly do not believe in the extremes some of the ideas below may suggest (so no abuse to anyone, please, just healthy discussion).
1. Tax Authorities are obliged to deal with everyone (presuming they wish everyone to pay tax). This must include the elderly and the computer illiterate. The Victorians did not exempt those who could not read from tax. Try to be fair Government! It will get you far more benefits that you could imagine.
2. I did a Bio-Chemistry Degree and learned exciting things about genetics! Who would have thought (query designer babies?) that the recessive gene for sickle cell anaemia (bad) actually is in its more common form, beneficial in terms of resisting malaria?
3. Monocultures are dangerous in terms of ecosystems. I suspect they are also bad in terms of governance and economics? Perhaps not everything should be run through companies quoted on a stock exchange, nor every tax return run through the same memory system.
4. Having experienced the dire impact of a computer crash on a number of occasions, the point about monocultures is perhaps exemplified. In the ‘olden days’ (not that long ago) when a crash happened we just went back to those tasks we could do by hand. Now, we sit frustrated. When it happens, small business owners worry about economic loss; employees worry about whether they may get paid, and if so how soon they may legitimately disappear back home/to the pub/etc. PLC’s wish to send out questionnaires from the call centres, but cannot because the system has failed.
5. Unfortunately, evil exists in the world, and I fear a Government with a one track computer system may well find it has been hacked? At what level of loss does it go from being an embarrassment to be kept secret to an outright potential coup? A Government with no money will swiftly run out of a mandate to govern!
6. How many Government computer projects have developed totally smoothly, efficiently and on budget?
7. This is not to dismiss the Fool on the Hill, Head in a Cloud – It is just that the Man of a thousand voices is talking perfectly loud. (Thank you Lennon and McCartney). Those voices encompass the lonely who may not have computer access. Would Eleanor Rigby have had a laptop next to her face in a jar? How would she submit her tax returns?
8. As I think most people would agree Windows and Google are fantastic – when they work… Imagine a virus when they did not?
9. The recent debates suggest TAX = POLITICS. The LA Gangs got this right when saying a mugging was a ‘tax’. Why give money to someone you do not support? Do not give it to a gang. This is the reason you can vote and Government should look after all, not just their voters. It should mean a vote for someone who does not get in, is not ‘wasted’. It should be like an insurance premium. You do not wish the disaster risk you insure against to occur. Still pay it – it is better than the alternative!
10. HMRC should employ and train more technical Revenue Officers. There is no shortage of rules. My belief is HMRC are short of the resources to enforce them. From my experience losing enforcement ability is the easiest way to lose compliance enthusiasm from the general public.
Vote and then demand intelligence and flexibility from those who get it. [Not mere lobby fodder].
Views welcome. Share them also with the prospective MPs who intend to write your tax laws for the next 5 years.