Tax doesn’t have to be taxing.  Or so we were told. You just need the right tax support.


In December 2005 HMRC scooped a marketing industry award for effective advertising. HM Revenue and Customs was the only public sector organisation to win a Gold award at the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising Effectiveness Awards. Featuring ex-Tomorrow’s World presenter, Adam Hart-Davies, the advert incorporated the popular practice of delaying tax compliance until the last and encouraged people to overcome this, by motivating them and eliminating the perceived obstacles.


“Tax doesn’t have to be taxing” the advert claimed.


Hector the Inspector


This wasn’t the first time that HMRC had taken to the airwaves to assure taxpayers that Self-Assessment would affect something of a sea change in tax. Between 1995 and 2001 HMRC spent approximately £25m of taxpayers money on television advertising fronted by the friendly, cartoon, face of Hector the Inspector– who promised us that “the tax system would be leaner, simpler and more efficient”.


Lies, Damn lies, and HMRC Adverts


If these adverts ran today, rather than win awards, they would be reported to the Advertising Standards Agency. They were misleading at best; an outright lie at worst. Tax is taxing. And has long been so. I’d wager a not insignificant sum that Mr Hart-Davis did not complete his own tax returns. Today the tax system is a long  way off being “leaner, simpler and more efficient”. It is more complex than ever.


The 2022 Finance Act alone consists of 104 sections and 18 schedules.  It includes 76,001 words. Over 400,000 characters.  Despite the immense scale and complexity of the tax code, the abolition of the Office of Tax Simplification (‘OTS’) remains one of very few announcements retained from Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s September 2022 “Growth Plan” (that feels like a lifetime ago already, doesn’t it?!).  That the OTS will close once the Spring 2023 Finance Bill receives Royal Assent was confirmed only last week.


The sheer scale of tax legislation means that Tax is incredibly taxing. It is complex, taxing (in both senses of that word), for lay people and professionals alike.


We all need help sometimes.


Of course, because it is so taxing, clients look to their accountants for help across a whole myriad of areas. Accountants in practice are often, by necessity, a Jack of all trades. They are adept at turning their hand to many things; with a good understanding of the fundamentals of tax and 95% of the issues their clients face.  But however much we try, it is impossible to be a master of all (tax) trades.


The key, I believe, is knowing what we don’t know and surrounding ourselves with those that do.  But that is much easier said than done in smaller firms.  It can be difficult to attract (and retain) top specialist tax talent, often the target of much larger firms and their healthy cheque books.  Indeed, many small firms simply cannot justify a full-time, permanent, tax specialist for those ad hoc questions throughout a year or a conundrum posed, when even the finest Jack doesn’t know the answer.  Even with a small team of tax specialists there will be times when we all wish we could “phone a friend”.


Tax support expertise on hand when you really need it


Our Tax Partner Service provides accountants with an expert second opinion on complex tax matters, saving hours of research time.


Armadillo supports our members by offering an additional level of expertise for complex tax matters; be that a formal written answer, or simply a quick call and reassuring second opinion.  We can be that friend to call; someone to lean on. Genuine tax support.


I am a Chartered Tax Advisor with over 30 years’ experience in the field. I began my career with the then Inland Revenue in 1992 before going on to work for three Top 10 firms; latterly sitting on the National Tax Board of RSM Tenon Plc.


Before joining forces with Gordon, I ran my own niche tax consultancy business for 7 years; specialising in employment taxes and HMRC investigations.  I have an extensive network of specialists that I can lean on to help support our members where queries fall outside my own expertise.


Our Tax Partner Service includes:


  • One hour of Matt’s time every month free of charge via a dedicated helpline or email. This includes any necessary research, calls or online meetings


  • A discounted fee for complex issues requiring more than one hour of work per month. A suitable fee is agreed with members in advance of carrying out any work. Matt will consult with third parties on matters outside our own expertise. Any third-party costs are also agreed in advance.


  • CPD webinars


  • Monthly tax case summaries


  • Regular webinars on topical tax issues


  • A weekly roundup of industry related news stories, including the latest developments in tax.



Let Armadillo be your tax partner.



Become a member to get full access to our expertise. Sign up here: