IT’S TOUGH BEING a government official. People abuse you all the time and you have to stay polite. Well, here’s the answer: respond with a nice dose of ice-cold irony.
Below is an example from a gentleman named Lee who works for the tax department in the UK, sent to me by reader Tom Marrin.
This is a true story. A UK citizen named Addison wrote to tell the tax office to stop sending him “begging letters”.
Taxman Mr Lee replied:
“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.”
Mr Addison complained that the tax department demanded money from him because they saw him as a "sodding charity".
Mr Lee replied that on the contrary they saw him as a citizen…
“with a responsibility to contribute to the upkeep of the nation as a whole”.
Mr Addison wrote that the tax authorities were “sucking the very marrows of those with nothing else to give”, referring to the organic material inside human bones.
Mr Lee replied that they did not do so, since…
“the sheer medical logistics involved would make it financially unviable”.
Mr Addison said that receiving his tax demand made him want to “give the whole foul jamboree up and go live in India”.
Mr Lee replied:
“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.”
Above is a car-tax receipt holder available for motorists who are fed up of traffic cops snooping around their cars.
I have been thinking about tax because of a conversation I had with a neighbor. She and her husband had just set up a sneaky scheme which would enable them to legally stop paying taxes. She recommended I do the same.
“Why not? It’s so easy,” she said.
I replied: “But I LIKE paying tax.”
Her eyes almost popped out of her head. She thought I was joking.
I explained: “Community taxes pay for roads and hospitals and schools. I use these services and would rather pay my share than not.”
She indicated that there was “probably not another person on this planet” who shared this view.
Is this true? Readers, is there anyone else out there who likes paying tax?
My neighbour’s position inspired me to embark on a complex research project (that is, I looked up the subject on Wikipedia). I found her stance was common.
Billionaire hotel owner Leona Helmsley said: "We don't pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes.”
Rupert Murdoch's companies are infamous for sucking vast amounts of money out of communities and using tax loopholes to ensure they put almost nothing back.
The following day I said to my neighbour: “For every person like you or Leona or Rupert who gets out of paying tax, some little old lady has to pay more.”
My neighbour, whose mother is a little old lady, had the grace to look guilty. Heh heh heh.