TaxPersonal TaxGive Hector his trousers back

Give Hector his trousers back

Hector, the Inland Revenue's tax inspector cartoon character, has had his pin-striped trousers and dark jacket removed and has been dressed in a quasi-Spiderman outfit to promote the filing of self-assessment returns via the Internet.

Sadly, the outfit is unflattering: Hector’s lower half seems to be clad in baggy long johns, his spare tyre is oozing out of the scanty webbing, and he still wears a bowler hat and a slightly nervous, embarrassed look on his face. This is not a happy Hector.

His discomfort set me wondering what sort of personality he is intended to have. My guide was the book Please Understand Me by David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates, which builds on the Psychological Types of Carl Jung and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator tests (which many of you will have completed). So let’s assess Hector by reference to the four pairs of preferences.

Does Hector lean towards introversion or extraversion? Definitely introversion I decided. This man does not need people to charge up his batteries: he would want thinking time and his own company. Secondly, he is certainly more practical than innovative. He is interested in facts and the past, not some fanciful future.

Thirdly, he would make judgements on an impersonal, objective basis – the Revenue would not champion someone whose feelings dominated the decision making process. And finally, would you say Hector would prefer ‘closure and settling things to keeping options open and fluid’? Of course, he wants closure. In Myers-Briggs terms we have an ISTJ.

This type includes people who are ‘dependable’ and ‘guardians of time-honoured institutions’. They are quiet; perform their duties without fuss. Apparently they can deal with complex figures and they make excellent tax examiners – yes, we’ve found him. I promise I didn’t cheat by looking at the personality profiles first.

Most importantly, this type prefers sensible, durable clothes. No wonder Hector looks so ill at ease in his new garb. If the Revenue keeps pushing him outside his comfort zone like this, he may suffer severe stress and sue for compensation.

Ann Baldwin FCA is a management trainer and conference speaker.

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