Monday, February 13, 2012

BLOG 119


What gets you really really angry? My secretary probably says that with me it is the long letter from HMRC that disagrees with the highly convincing argument that I put to them.

She may be right! But I think it is waiting to pay for my groceries when the person in front insists on using a credit card to settle his £2.40 bill. Often he keys in his number too quickly (OK, I do it all the time on those rare instances when I use my credit card) and has to start again. Sometimes the credit card doesn’t work and he tries again with a different one. Why does the world seem to have such a hatred of good old legal tender? I generally shop with those blue bits of paper which the shop accepts are worth £20. Why can’t the rest of the world do that for trivial amounts?

Now I know the answer to that question. has explained to me that Dave Hartnett, the Parliamentary Secretary to HMRC, their top technical guy, says that paying cash is “diddling the country”. They go on to say that Dave has warned that “paying a builder or cleaner in cash will result in deeper government cuts to public services”. I am unclear whether paying Tesco or Asda in cash will, in Dave’s view, result in similar cuts. Is cash now wholly unacceptable? Is paying in cash as criminal as smoking cannabis or exceeding the speed limit or murdering my neighbour? (Don’t worry Charlie and Vince, I don’t intend to do it).

Or have HMRC lost touch with reality? Is everything that we do in life now wholly unacceptable unless we can provide independent third party evidence as to whether, and why, we did it?

Are we now in a society where tax rules our lives? Where we should not do anything at all without considering whether it might have tax consequences? Without documenting everything that we do just in case HMRC may want to question whether we are “diddling the country”?

That seems to be Dave’s world. I sincerely hope that I’m not forced to join it!



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