The Tax Man was a figment of Arnold Rimmer's paranoid mind, who tormented Rimmer when he entered the T.I.V. "Better Than Life" which the Dwarfers had found in a post pod that had caught up to Red Dwarf.
When Rimmer was playing Better Than Life, an artificial reality game where all your desires could come true, he soon discovered that his subconscious hated him. He began to fantasise a nagging wife and several bratty children, as well as losing all of his wealth and position. When he was at his lowest ebb, a man appeared claiming to be from the Outland Revenue, to whom he had earlier learned he owed 8,500 DollarPounds.
He was a ordinary looking yet psychopathic man with grey hair and a moustache. He wore a black raincoat and a suit and carried a briefcase. The Tax Man presented Rimmer with a demand for immediate payment of his $£18,000 debt. He went on to explain that the Revenue had instructed him to perform violent acts against Rimmer if he was unable to pay, namely breaking both of Rimmer's legs and pulling off his thumbs, at which point the collector began to twitch at the thought of violence. Lister offered to pay the debt, but Rimmer's self-hatred made all of Lister's money vanish also. They soon had to ignore the Tax Man as a large tarantula had crawled up Rimmer's trousers.
Later, after they had (seemingly) left the game, Rimmer learned that he had been promoted to Navigation Officer. His reverie was short lived, because the Tax Man jumped out of the locker in the sleeping quarters, making it clear that they had not really exited the game. The Tax Man then proceeded to smash one of Rimmer's thumbs with a hammer just before the game ended for real.
Behind the scenes
- The Tax Man was played by veteran British comedy actor Ron Pember, who had already amassed over one hundred different onscreen credits. He retired about five years after this performance.