The Tax Collector
‘To pay or not to pay’
What is your image of a tax collector?
There is a lot of dissension in the world these days. Choose one side or the other, or several options but rarely all of us are on the same page…except perhaps for paying a debt. Few people enjoy paying bills, no matter the product or service and nobody likes to pay their taxes.
The only list where bill collectors are at the top is the one for professions considered unfavourably, perhaps even with distaste. Collectors may be segmented and within the list of those who collect debt for a living, way down there, or in this case, way up there at the top of the list, is the tax collector.
To better understand the aversion to paying taxes if we must, and dislike when we do, let’s consider the following, which I call ‘Paulsen’s Rule #3’:
- I am going to gather some money together, from friends, family and perhaps crowd-funding to purchase a new vehicle for you. It could be a new bicycle, motor-scooter, car, use your imagination.Your concern will be the quality of the item. The cost of the item will be of little or no concern.
- You are going to use your own hard-earned money to purchase a new vehicle for your cousin who could really use it to get to and from university, a new job, you pick.In this case, the cost is important, and may even lead you to ‘pre-owned’ vehicles. It isn’t that quality if of no concern at all, but ‘good enough, is ‘good enough’.
- In a third scenario, the money is gathered from others and you will choose a vehicle, again for a cousin, but we’ll make it a 3rd cousin who you have never met.It’s not your money, so the cost is not as great a concern and the product, in this case, the vehicle is not going to be used by you, so that while you hope ‘the pointy end’ of the vehicle will go in the direction chosen, the quality does not matter as much either.Know who you are now? You’re the government, spending someone else’s money for a product or service for ‘other people’. For the most part, when people bought an item, using their credit card for example, it was for a product or service they wanted. Not with taxes or at least never to the same degree and as described so well by Shakespeare, ‘there’s the rub’.
“You are going to take my hard-earned money and spend it on less than stellar quality products or services for a lot of people that I don’t know, and let’s face it, a lot of people I don’t want to know and wouldn’t like them if I did.“
Governments, rather wisely, will attempt to ‘sell’ or ‘spin’ the need and value of your tax payment, but we are a tough audience and will never be fully convinced.
Into the fray steps the tax collector, the man or woman as a revenue representative for the government, to collect ‘hard-earned money for the goods and services some people don’t want for people they don’t like. Is it difficult to convince the tax debtor about the value and importance of their payment? No, it is impossible!
In most organizations, even with ‘push back’ from some debtors, the accounts receivable team receives appreciation and respect from management or the owners. The tax revenue professionals? Not as much. After all, once again, it isn’t their (revenue management) money, being collected.
To re-visit Shakespeare once again and to paraphrase, it is difficult to walk tall, when apparently in disgrace in fortune and men’s eyes. The profession of the tax revenue professional calls upon them to meet all the criteria needed for effective collections, from debtors who never want to pay and some relish the chance to avoid or dodge their responsibilities while working in positions that due to the described ‘Paulsen’s Rule #3’, will never have the deserved respect and admiration within the organization they work.
Yet, know this. If you are a professional in tax revenue, we, at the International Centre for Professional Collections, recognize your unique challenges and needed knowledge and skills. While we will never convince those whom you collect from of your value to them, we will continue to sing your praises. We’ve got your back.
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