The Taxman

August 28, 2015

Fair warning, if you ever meet me face to face and start telling me about the Laffer Curve (the idea that taxing above a certain level stops people bothering to getting out of bed) you should know that I consider this theory to be entirely exploded by history.  This history is admirably illustrated by The Beatles’ song “The Taxman“, and I will more than likely sing a few verses of it at you until you admit defeat.

George Harrison could do as he liked, of course, but for the rest of us, times have changed, and the use of the term Taxman to refer to members of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, and, by synecdoche, the institution itself is now somewhat offensive.

I say “somewhat”, because there are few absolutes in linguistic useage (I am aware that I have used the term myself when I have been unable to think of an alternative) and I say “offensive” because HMRC had a 58% female workforce (when they had 74,000 staff: I’m assuming this was a couple of years ago – anyone got more recent figures?)

“The Taxman” is a term which includes female tax inspectors?  Yes, quite: and “who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven” never bothered me in the creed either.  It’s an archaic usage: get with it grandad and just stop it please!

Let us be practical, however.  What can we say instead of the lazy sexism of “the taxman”?

Well how about:

  • HMRC
  • the Revenue
  • Customs
  • taxfolk
  • taxpeeps
  • the taxers
  • taxbods
  • tax professionals
  • taxworkers
  • the tax office
  • tax officials
  • tax inspectors
  • HMRC officers
  • tax/customs authority

Pick an appropriate one for your context (and, no, using one inappropriate to context will not persuade me that I’m asking the impossible).  And, please feel free to add your further suggestions, serious and… more left field…. in the comments.


One comment

  1. Belated note: I hadn’t realised quite what a big-end/little-end topic the Laffer Curve was. Please note this is a post about the use of the term “taxman” – comments about the Laffer curve will be deleted, sorry. The Laffer discussion continues on Twitter. Here – post alternatives to “taxman” please!

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