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Enigma

Even the youngsters among you will know of the Enigma Code and the efforts that the UK (and perhaps other allied forces) made during the second world war to break it. It was one of the most complex coding systems built in those days and the enigma machine much sought after.

enigmaencodingmachine

I did read the book at one time and while the basic story took up about two thirds of the pages, the remainder explained how the coding worked and what they did to get the answer - more or less.

Plain English is the norm we all strive for in our language though most will use jargon at some stage or another; mostly unthinkingly but some in a deliberate attempt to mystify their listeners or readers. Many larger organisations have achieved the coveted (?) Crystalmark for clear written language, but it doesn't mean that the documents are simple to understand. They seem to be long agreements produced by Insurance companies which never made for stimulating reading. Now with Crystalmark they are long clearly written pieces of unstimulating reading!

Cartoon #2110 - Husband - 'None of this makes any sense! It's almost as if they don't want me to understand!', wife responds - 'Maybe that's why they call it the tax code!

The UK tax system remains one of the most complex in the world and despite many attempts - some current and still works in progress - it's pre-eminent position is unchanged. The inappropriately named "Office for Tax Simplification" has simplification as its objective, but it will take more than using smaller words and short sentences to record any real successes.

If you can imagine a world when the tax system is so straightforward and understandable that you don't need an accountant, then I think you may be living somewhere over the rainbow and perhaps need to start saying to yourself, "There's no place like home..."

The tax code - both the body of tax law AND the code applied to your salary - sometimes require the skills of Bletchley Park to break down the abstruse language used to explain things to users.

In the recent appeal hearing in the Total People case, the understanding of a simple phrase like "relevant motoring expenses" caused no end of confusion and the judge found in favour of HMRC. The words are simple but the Tax Code imparts a different meaning from that which the ordinary man or woman might have. Thankfully, the accountants are seeking leave to appeal to the next higher court and so we may yet see a commonsense result.

Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore...

 

JohnF

PS if you want to know more about the Total People case and if it affects you, please call me.

 

 

 


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