Anyone who has
undergone an audit or an investigation by the tax authorities will probably
have felt a degree of terror – but also a strong sense of irritation at the
sheer triviality of some of the questions.
It is annoying to be
interrogated at length and in detail about absurdly small sums claimed as
As an individual, one
has better things to do than try to remember how and why one spent ten pounds a
couple of years ago.
As a taxpayer, and
possibly a citizen, one has every right to be angry at the waste of public
resources involving an official – whose total cost to the public purse per hour
worked is probably quite obscene – spending disproportionate amounts of his
employer’s time on tiny sums of money.
Of course, the tax man
might claim that it is the principle of the thing...
...except that, in
Britain at least, he cannot.
Her Majesty’s Revenue
and Customs have been forced to reveal – but only after diligent investigation
by a concerned citizen who can now be sure of a detailed tax inspection – that
they do not bother counting small sums of money when it comes to paying their
Instead they find it
more efficient just to pay themselves generous fixed rates for overnight stays
and meals when on official business, no questions asked.
They are quite right
to do so. It really is cheaper to pay fixed allowances than spend time and
money on the paperwork of processing each claim.
So why not let us poor
taxpayers do the same?