Trackless wastes

August 1, 2012

Yes, I know I wrote on Monday about the Tax Tracker and yes, I know they published another iteration of the tracker ON Monday, sigh.

Turns out I missed one, anyway – there’s a formal consultation due “in the summer” on “Life insurance policies: time apportionment reductions”.

I had another look at the list of consultation closing dates over the summer and the only alteration I could find was the addition of:

Closes 22 October: The attribution of gains to members of closely controlled non-resident companies

I note in passing that there’s a remarkable number of “informal” and/or “technical” consultations, which I take to be officialese for “yes, I know we said we’d consult on tax changes, but we don’t want your opinions, peasants; we just want to talk to knowledgeable tax specialists who will Understand.”

You think I’m exaggerating?

I obtained some internal HMRC correspondence under an FoI request which contained amongst other things the interesting news that my response to the consultation on the proposals to add a top up to Gift Aid “is of rather poor quality”.  While the ex-Civil Servant in me finds this extremely funny, the Angry Citizen in me finds this… less so.

Because what are we consulting for, please?  I mean, if all that is wanted is to crowd-source the bread and butter work of policy making – to save the government money by getting rid of civil servants so that instead the government can rely on the tax and legal professions and interested industry bodies to do the tedious work of updating and checking legislation for them, well then, yes: my response on the Gift Aid consultation was, indeed of “rather poor quality”.

Because I didn’t do that.  I didn’t try to do the job of the policy team for them and work out any kinks in their proposals.  Because, you know, I used to do that kind of thing for a living and I’d be a scab if I now started doing it for free!

What I did try to do, was to give my response as a citizen to a proposal which will affect me, as a citizen, a taxpayer and as a person who gives to charity.  The fact that I thought it was a misconceived proposal should have been a useful datum.  I’m not saying it should in any way be decisive; but it should be part of the picture.

And any other citizen who chooses to comment on the workings of government and the development of policy ought also to be able to feel that their contribution is taken on board as part of the picture.  It’s government of the people, by the people, for the people; not GCSE civics.

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