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Taxation can be thrilling... really

It's a long way from Cool Britannia. The Government that invited Oasis star Noel Gallagher to 10 Downing Street and whose leader exchanged headers with former England football manager Kevin Keegan has embarked on what could prove its most taxing crusade yet, writes Jon Slater.

Rather than dream of topping the charts or of playing football for their country, New Labour wants young people to take up a career in... tax.

The Government is one of 17 founding members of TaxWorking, an alliance launched this week to "dispel misconceptions about careers in tax". "Tax has an undeserved reputation as narrow and boring. Tax is at the very centre of the political debate and provides many exciting and engaging career options," said John Whiting, the group's enthusiastic spokesman.

TaxWorking's website lists eight different career case studies, from private client practice to taxation authorities.

It also shows a game entitled "What type of tax adviser are you?". The aim is to propel a footballer skyward to collect coins while avoiding tax bills. It is achieved by moving a seesaw symbolising the balanced relationship between tax worker and client.

An internet search for "taxman" also reveals a more exciting side to the subject. Results include a karaoke site giving the lyrics of the Beatles'

track of the same name.

It also uncovered a new report from 1999 when John Carpenter, an American tax office worker, won $1 million on the American Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, then the biggest one-off game show prize in US TV history.

This gives credence to Mr Whiting's claim that "TaxWorking will show...

that tax offers undoubted scope for financial reward". This may, however, be undermined by the paltry prize offered to the website game's highest scorer after three months: pound;50, although, hopefully, that payment will be tax-free.

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