As It Is or As I Am – the Art of Becoming

A journey … towards … being

Reporting Tax cheats and Benefit cheats

My thanks to “The Now Show” for raising the absurdity of some aspects of the government’s web site.  For those who never listen “The Now Show” is a satirical radio programme poking fun at the previous week’s news and events.  Despite the fun, serious issues are brought up.  This week, the on-line forms for reporting tax cheats and benefit cheats were contrasted. Interesting the language used – the tax cheat form entitled “Tax Evasion Hotline – Information report form”- while the benefit cheat form entitled “Report a benefit thief online form”.  It seems claiming more benefit than you’re entitled to makes you a “thief”, a much more emotive word, than “evasion” used to describe not paying your full taxes. Very different descriptive words used.  As you look at the forms, the tax one is very business like, with the benefit one more personal, which you may say is how things are – it is probably more businesses that are evading taxes, than people.  Maybe.  But, aren’t businesses run by people?

I tried to find out how much the two types of cheating or fraud are costing.  Taken from the BBC web site: “tax fraud – estimated at £15.2bn”

Whereas, only “£20m in fraud and incorrect benefits and pensions payments have been identified in the public sector.”

Notice the difference, tax fraud costs £15.2 billion – benefits fraud (combined with incorrect payments and pensions) only £20 million.

So, why all the media  (TV, Newspapers, magazines) adverts asking us to shop people we might know who are committing benefit fraud, yet no media adverts encouraging the same for tax fraudsters, when that would save the government so much more money?  Dare, I say tax fraud is seen as a white collar crime and benefit cheats seen as a lower type of person who are easy targets?

I’m not advocating or condoning either tax or benefit cheating.  But, let’s be equal in approaching each. The on-line reporting forms of cheats show a strong bias in approach.

Both forms ask for the persons:

  • Last name:
  • First name:
  • Middle name(s):
  • Alias and/or nicknames used:
  • Address line 1:
  • Address line 2:
  • Address line 3:
  • Postcode:
  • Telephone number (including STD):
  • Mobile telephone number:
  • Date of birth:
  • Approximate age:
  • National Insurance Number:
However, the benefit form, in addition, asks for “Appearance of person claiming benefit“, giving drop down lists to select from.  It asks for:
Their ethnic group:
  • White
  • Black
  • Asian
  • Chinese
  • Other
Then it asks for their build:
  • Broad
  • Heavy
  • Medium
  • Overweight
  • Proportionate
  • Short
  • Slim
  • Small
  • Stocky
  • Tall
  • Thin
  • Other
Then it asks about their eyecolur and eye wear.  Then their hair colour:
  • Auburn
  • Black
  • Blue
  • Blonde
  • Brown
  • Dark Brown
  • Fair
  • Ginger
  • Green
  • Grey
  • Highlighted
  • Light Brown
  • Mousey
  • Multi-Coloured
  • Orange
  • Pink
  • Purple
  • Red
  • Sandy
  • Streaked
  • White
  • Yellow
Finally their hair type:
  • Afro
  • Bouffant
  • Bald
  • Curly
  • Dirty
  • Dreadlocks
  • Greasy
  • Long
  • Mohican
  • Permed
  • Plaited
  • Ponytail
  • Punk
  • Quiffed
  • Shaven
  • Short
  • Skinhead
  • Spikey
  • Spiked
  • Straight
  • Thinning
  • Tidy
  • Untidy
  • Wavy
  • Wig

So, why the difference? Why do they ask for the appearance of benefit cheats, but not tax cheats?

Also, interesting at the top of the benefit form is a link “You can also access this form in Welsh“, whereas no such link is on the tax form.  What are the government implying about the Welsh? That they are more likely to grass up their fellow country men or that the Welsh always pay their taxes?

The whole thing seems so lacking in equality.

As said above, I’m not advocating or condoning either tax or benefit cheating.  But, let’s be equal in approaching each.  This unequal approach I feel does damage to society – it has a negative social impact.

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