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Wednesday, 10 January, 2001, 12:17 GMT
Hector the Taxman RIP
Hector the Taxman
Hector came to symbolise the Inland Revenue
With his bowler hat, pinstripe suit and moustache, Hector the Taxman seemed the very essence of the benevolent bureaucrat.

Introduced six years ago to highlight the new self-assessment regime, Hector (the word derives from inspector), was a benign image for one of the most feared government departments - the Inland Revenue.

In television advertisements, his voice was that of one of Britain's most respected actors - the late Sir Alex Guinness.

But on Thursday he will grace our television screens for the last time as the Inland Revenue sends him into retirement.

Hector was originally intended only for self-assessment promotion, but he soon came to symbolise all the activities of the Inland Revenue, causing some resentment among staff.

'Easily recognisable'

Inland Revenue spokeswoman Claudine Lashley said: "Not everybody in the staff or outside liked Hector.

"The bowler hat and the pinstripe trousers were not really very appropriate to modern times, but he was an easily recognisable symbol and, therefore, a marketing success.

"We feel we do not need Hector anymore to remind people to fill out their self-assessment form."

Hector the Taxman
Staff came to resent his rather stuffy image

On Thursday Hector will, literally, sail off into the sunset when the chairman of the Inland Revenue, Nick Montagu, bids him goodbye on a boat in the middle of the River Thames.

Hector will then transfer to his own boat and sail away into retirement.

The Inland Revenue has no plans to replace him, but its first ever Director of Marketing Ian Schoolar will be charged with coming up with an alternative marketing strategy.

Ms Lashley added: "We do much more now than just collecting tax. We are also responsible for implementing the working families tax credit and enforcing the minimum wage.

"We want something that represents the diversity of our customers and the people who work for the revenue.

"Our marketing campaign in future will be more focused on each specific subject, rather than a specific character like Hector."

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See also:

09 Jan 01 | Business
Time to pay your tax
21 Aug 00 | Business
Taxing internet returns
29 Jan 99 | Your Money
Catching up with the taxman
29 Oct 98 | Your Money
Guide to your tax obligations
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