A lesson in letter writing skills for Income Tax officials

I’m told this is a letter as written by a staffer in the UK’s HM Revenue and Customs, in response to what must have been an interesting letter from a taxpayer…

Dear Mr Addison,

I am writing to you to express our thanks for your more than prompt reply to our latest communication, and also to answer some of the points you raise. I will address them, as ever, in order.

Firstly, I must take issue with your description of our last as a “begging letter”. It might perhaps more properly be referred to as a “tax demand”. This is how we, at HMRC have always, for reasons of accuracy, traditionally referred to such documents.

Secondly, your frustration at our adding to the “endless stream of crapulent whining and panhandling vomited daily through the letterbox on to the doormat” has been noted. However, whilst I have naturally not seen the other letters to which you refer I would cautiously suggest that their being from “pauper councils, Lombardy pirate banking houses and pissant gas-mongerers” might indicate that your decision to “file them next to the toilet in case of emergencies” is at best a little ill-advised.

In common with my own organisation, it is unlikely that the senders of these letters do see you as a “lackwit bumpkin or, come to that, a “sodding charity”. More likely they see you as a citizen of Great Britain, with a responsibility to contribute to the upkeep of the nation as a whole.

Which brings me to my next point. Whilst there may be some spirit of truth in your assertion that the taxes you pay “go to shore up the canker-blighted, toppling folly that is the Public Services”, a moment’s rudimentary calculation ought to disabuse you of the notion that the government in any way expects you to “stump up for the whole damned party” yourself.

The estimates you provide for the Chancellor’s disbursement of the funds levied by taxation, whilst colourful, are, in fairness, a little off the mark. Less than you seem to imagine is spent on “junkets for Bunterish lickspittles” and “dancing whores” whilst far more than you have accounted for is allocated to, for example, “that box-ticking facade of a university system.”

A couple of technical points arising from direct queries:

1. The reason we don’t simply write “Muggins” on the envelope has to do with the vagaries of the postal system;

2. You can rest assured that “sucking the very marrows of those with nothing else to give” has never been considered as a practice because even if the Personal Allowance didn’t render it irrelevant, the sheer medical logistics involved would make it financially unviable.

I trust this has helped. In the meantime, whilst I would not in any way wish to influence your decision one way or the other, I ought to point out that even if you did choose to “give the whole foul jamboree up and go and live in India” you would still owe us the money.

Please forward it by Friday.

Yours sincerely,

H J Lee

HMRC Customer Relations

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  1. I refuse to believe this is from the HMRC: no-one there has a sense of humour, or can even write an intelligible letter.

    The last two letters I received from them were the customary public servant nonsensical kind. I had to phone them up (and endure the obligatory 20 minute wait, of course) and ask them to explain what they meant in the letter. They then added the relevant information for the letter to make sense.

    I suppose it keeps them in a job.

    It was very amusing though, so thanks for sharing!

    Incidentally, it’s a fake, written by the comedian Chris Addison. http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2003/sep/27/tax.jobsandmoney

  2. A good friend of mine works for Revenue Canada which is our equivalent of your HMRC. I’m going to send the link to her so she can laugh as I did 🙂