Taking Stock – Revenue spins a web for Hector the Superhero.

The Inland Revenue’s cuddly tax inspector Hector has attracted more attention this week with the launch of the new internet filing arrangements for self-assessment returns. Not that you would necessarily notice. The Revenue proved extremely reluctant this week to supply an image. TS was forced to rely on the national newspaper campaign above to keep you up to speed with the changing wardrobe of everyone’s favourite tax inspector. Apparently officials are extremely worried about people making Hector look stupid. So why dress him up as Spiderman, you might ask? The campaign will reopen the old superhero debate. Is Hector, who like Spiderman, can presumably do whatever a spider can, bigger and better than Superman or Batman? Will schoolchildren start dressing up as the latest superhero – a mild-mannered tax inspector by day, a lycra-clad crimebuster fighting the forces of evil by night? These events prompted TS to recall the origins of Hector’s name. It’s a slightly less dramatic tale than the one that saw Peter Parker bitten by a radioactive spider but interesting nonetheless. Back in the mists of time when Revenue spin doctors were suggesting he be called Hector the Inspector, there was opposition within Somerset House. A Revenue official looked up Hector in a dictionary and found it meant ‘a braggart or bully’. Sam, or self-assessment Man, was the preferred alternative. But the name Hector stuck. And, as they say, a new superhero was born.

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