Once upon a time, when I was a young student, my then-girlfriend and I suffered the worst service I’ve ever encountered, lunching at a Cambridge restaurant. Instead of leaving a normal tip (shudder) or no tip, we left a tip of one halfpenny. We thought this gave entirely the right message. The other couple at the table (which we shared because the place was busy) fully agreed.
This year’s tax bill reminded me of that. Most tax in the UK is PAYE (pay as you earn), which means that your income, both earned and unearned, comes net of tax. In previous years I’ve had nothing to pay, but rather a small adjustment in my favour. This time, they decided I owed them 10p (that’s ten pence, not pounds). I just availed myself of their online payment facility to pay it by debit card.
I don’t know how much the government’s payment processor charges them per debit card transaction. But as a datapoint, my company gets charged a flat rate of 95p each time we accept a debitcard payment online (that’s different from creditcards, where we get charged a percentage). Big businesses get a much better rate than small ones, but I feel sure HMRC must be making a net loss on a payment as low as 10p.