Overview: the ‘Taxables’ family

Meet Jack, Heather, David and Penny. They’re just a normal family, with
normal worries. Jack’s a 16-year-old with a Saturday job. Heather’s a mum
worried about tax credits. David runs his own business and Penny is also setting
up her own, web-design company.

The ‘Taxables’
are worried. They’re all individually concerned about tax.
Collectively, they’re representative of the Chartered Institute of Taxation’s
concerns about the views of tax among the population at large. Look: you’re all
like these people, you all need tax advice, and you didn’t know it.


The CIoT paraded Penny and David Taxable
at Victoria station at the beginning of Tax Advice Week. The pair collared
commuters, who responded with some bizarre attitudes to tax.

‘I don’t pay any tax,’ said Pippa from London, who no doubt declined to give
further contact details in the hope of avoiding that other tax celebrity, Hector
the Inspector.

Another passer-by claimed he didn’t pay enough. As far as HM Revenue &
Customs is concerned, advisers might note, you can never really pay enough.

The CIoT has also set up a website detailing where members of the public can
get basic tax advice, and see the Taxables, in an attempt to convince people of
the value of having tax explained to them.


It’s always difficult to tell what the impact of campaigns such as this might
be. Some people will pick up ideas on tax, certainly. But will it change the
profile of the tax profession?

Tax advisers cater predominantly to the very wealthy; that, after all, is
where the real tax ‘savings’ are.

Do people, and could people, see tax advice as a democratic right? Should tax
advice be doled out like legal aid, funded by the government? Certainly there
are few high-profile cases of pro-bono tax advice in the same way that lawyers
will often act for the principle and for the principle alone.

The need for tax advice for all has arguably never been greater. More and
more people fall into the scope of inheritance tax and the complexity of tax
credits has been one of the stories of New Labour tax policy, if not most
people’s predominant perception of this government’s efforts on tax.

The tax profession is often seen as helping the rich and the rich alone.
Perhaps it’s time it broadened its appeal.

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