Tintacks, tintax and, er, encarta

May 17, 2012

I was at the ARC dinner last night – ARC being the Association of Revenue and Customs senior staff, of which I am a proud Life (which is to say retired) Member. So I was talking to former colleagues and the subject of this blog came up.

“I remember tintax,” someone said.

And then I realised.  I thought I had coined the name of this blog myself, from the name of the documents on which I worked before my retirement, the Tax Information and Impact Notes – TIIN – and the word tax, to make something that sounds a bit like the American name for drawing pins, tin tacks.

But no.  Actually in the dim and distant past, when the Inland Revenue was kind of cutting edge as regards computer technology (sigh) we had a guidance system called Tintax.  It was a bit like a static version of wikipedia, with all the internal guidance you could want, sitting there for you to search through.

Hey, don’t laugh.  I remember when Inland Revenue manuals came on paper, and you had a clerk assiduously go through and replace the relevant pages when there were updates, and initial the front of the manual to show they’d done so.

Tintax was cutting edge.  In its day.  Like, er, encarta was back in ’93, when having an encyclopedia on your computer – so it was searchable – was like Living In The Future.

Ah well.

I blame the drink, but none of us sitting around the table last night discussing the old Tintax system could remember why it was called Tintax.  Presumably it was an acronym – but of what?

Answers in comments, please…?


  1. I remember Tintax – but don’t ask me what it stood for. (I thought that was the reason you’d used that name for the blog). But you had a clerk to update the manuals ???? Really … I had to do my own amendments!!

  2. possible technical information about tax? tintax was just arriving as i started in dept and was supposed to revolutionise things! there’s a french phrase isn’t there the more things change the more things stay the same!

  3. I remember having to make ends amendments to endless manuals. This was my second job in IR. My first was filing P45(1). Those were the days of concards, no computers and only Collectors could use green pens. Them were the days….

  4. Just in case it’s still bugging you I did a bit of research and TINTAX isn’t an acronym after all. It’s listed in the library as an abbreviation of “Total Information for the Taxes Network”. As someone who never worked for the IR it still sounds like gobbledegook to me…


    Fascinating. So TINTAX is remembered still! And it is remembered as being `cutting edge technology’ too – which of course it was.

    It was so cutting edge that when the idea of `on-line` searchable instructions was first mooted, post COP & CODA (remember them), we, the Revenue did not have the technology to deliver. All we had were the big main frame computers at Centre I and Centre II who had their work cut out bringing in the tax with no room for instructions,

    So we at M4 Instructions under the leadership of Margaret James, were tasked with being ready when the call came. This it did eventually about 1993 when Inspectors were issued with their own individual PCs. At this point the Instructions were gradually put on-line and M4 Instructions were able to send out every month to each district and collection a CD-Rom with updates and, I think, memos. This was TINTAX complete with its own searchable thesaurus of `taxes technical` terms – compiled by a team of technical inspectors in M4 Instructions.

    As for who who came up with the name. This was Keith Deacon, who was very supportive of the project which was initially aimed at the technical inspectorate. It was first known as the `Deacon Project’ and then `Technical INformation for TAXes’ eventually metamorphosing into `Total INformation for the TAXes Network’ once it was extended to the whole network.


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