Customers? the reconstruction of the 'taxpayer' in Inland Revenue discourse and practice

P. Tuck, K. Hoskin, M. Lamb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


References to 'customers' have become commonplace in the policy discourses within UK government and other public sector bodies. It is a working assumption of UK public sector management that the concept of the 'customer' can be applied to any public sector service agency or department; and this paper analyses how the UK government's revenue department, formerly titled the Inland Revenue (IR), re-characterised firstly taxpayers and latterly tax claimants as 'customers', rather than 'users', of IR services. This paper identifies some problems, dilemmas and ambiguities associated with this reconceptualisation in the context of an organisation that is predominantly a regulating department. Far from being merely a reclassification of the taxpayer as customer, the emerging discourse and associated practices of the IR were in part embedded in organisational change, including the merger with HM Customs and Excise to form the present-day HMRC. Thus this case analysis illustrates the limits of consumerism as a strategic tool of a government revenue department and raises wider questions for public management.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)357-374
Number of pages18
JournalAccounting and Business Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2011


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