Naomi Fowler ■ UK tax authority awareness raising for children on the importance of tax


The UK’s tax authority HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs) has an educational youtube video for children which is, in their words ‘A simple introduction to tax for 8 to 11 year olds, which explains that taxes provide the money needed to pay for the things that are essential to them, their families, communities and society as a whole.’

Seems reasonable. It’s about time they made an effort to talk about why tax is so important rather than focus their energy on threatening people with awareness that there’s a hefty penalty coming their way if they don’t get hurry up and file their tax returns before the deadline.Here’s the video. It wouldn’t win prizes from educationalists on how to make films that appeal to children: talk of ‘essential services’ probably wouldn’t excite too many young minds, but still:

Now what’s most interesting is the type of responses such a video provokes.

Here’s one example:

He goes on to say ‘it is very one-sided propaganda that presents statist ideology as if it were fact’. We’re wondering what kind of video this person and his friends might like to produce to show to children sitting in a school not paid for by our taxes?

But this isn’t the first time the UK’s tax authority HMRC has produced a video for children on tax. Back in 2012 they made one that was aimed at 14-17 year olds for their citizenship classes, a part of the National Curriculum in English schools. At the time their attempts at tax and citizenship education were shot down in flames by some in the media.

In a Telegraph newspaper article a certain Mark Giddens (a partner at an accountancy firm) is quoted as saying: “I think a video aimed at children is a bit extreme.” So, now we’re living in a world where educating children about tax and citizenship is an act that can be considered extremist. According to the Telegraph, in one such citizenship class children are apparently asked questions such as:

“What do students now think about paying taxes? In what other ways can we contribute to working together for a better society?

What do students think about people who try to avoid paying taxes? Is it a victimless crime? What kind of penalties should such people be given when they are caught?”

All good solid questions children and adults would do well to ponder and explore.


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Comments • 1

  • January 15, 2017 - 11:17 am

    This video film is badly biased toward the claim that we need to be taxed so as to pay for the infrastructure.

    What it misses out is that one class of people benefit from the building of this infrastructure, and they are the ones who should be paying all of the taxes. This class of people are the land owners and their friends at the banks.

    As the town develops and the infrastructure is improved, the land becomes more valuable and in fact this increase in value is so great and the rent obtainable from land in use so much (that began on un-populated land which was almost worthless), that it would pay for all the other benefits that our present taxation burden enables us to enjoy. Unlike others, the landlords and speculators don’t need to have a job and to work, so some of our earnings are going to make them rich and wasteful, whilst we have to cover their expenditures by being taxed.

    This situation is grossly unfair and socially immoral. Its solution and the associated elimination of poverty is by Land Value Taxation as first described by Henry George in 1879 in his seminal book “Progress and Poverty”.

    Children should be properly introduced to the rest of our social system using the method presented in my open paper SSRN 2600103 “A Mechanical Model for teaching Macroeconomics”, or something better if available. Any one-sided presentation, such as the one provided here should be better balanced and this problem of no balance leads to much frustration about understanding how our social system works.

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