Wednesday 25 July 2012

Taxing Questions On Morality

“A politician preaching morality is like a dog’s walking on his hinder legs.  It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all.”  Slightly amended, the original quote would be regarded now as incorrect, Dr. Johnson’s saying applies to many of the statements made recently by our leaders.

The latest by David Gauke, the Exchequer Secretary to The Treasury and gossip columnist of the Berkhamsted and Tring Gazette, is to suggest that paying cash to tradesmen and workmen is a form of tax evasion and immoral.  This depends, of course, where he or she has his or her business registered.

One local jobbing builder has his private limited company registered in Guernsey.  So he is simply avoiding tax, not the same at all.  For advice go and talk to a corporate tax lawyer.  One of the best in the business is said to be the spouse of David Gauke.

He and his generation and those following see money as figures you do with cards and mechanical means of payments, interchange and the rest.  Cash is that dirty, smelly stuff needed for small time things, inconvenient and which you often forget to take out with you.

Also, in dealing with tradesmen and workmen you want them to send (or mail) you the bill which you will then pay at your leisure.  Some of you like to have long leisure times and only pay when the bills come in with red on them.  Then you find things to complain or argue about to avoid paying.

When I was young cash was king.  This was not because all transactions were cash.  Far from it.  Among the lower orders there were extensive barter and similar trading arrangements that represented a fair proportion of the real economy of our lives.  This was because cash was hard to come by and credit highly restricted.

Try working out the economics of exchange with one large tin of jam, liberated from the US Army, eggs available because the hens were laying well and knock off cigarette lighters made in the local engineering factory when the foreman was not looking or on his tea break.

A few shillings in the pocket would work wonders to your advantage and if you were in the money with actual pound or ten shilling notes you were onto a winner.  No wonder I grew up with the idea that someone with cash in hand and a polite manner could get what they wanted, almost.

It still works today.  But not at the local supermarket, card and computer driven many other high street shops and the rest.  But turn up at the farmer’s market, farm shops, boot sales and you are welcome.  Moreover in London when transport goes badly wrong holding up a fist full of tenners (not fifties, they are suspect) in front of a taxi driver will get you where you want to go.

As for local workmen or tradesmen the card and computer culture is all very well but this entails costs to them.  Bankers and card companies cream them as well as the rest of us.  Then there is the cost in time checking the accounts and if corrections are needed the endless trouble with the “help” lines.

So when a job is to be done and the person who does the whatever has a call from me then they know that he or she will have the option of cash or cheque and both will be there on the nail when the job is finished.  It is easier for both of us.

The tax issue of whoever I give cash to is their problem, not mine.  The government’s problem is that on the one hand they have made the tax system so complicated and expensive to manage that a good many people avoid it for that issue alone. 

On the other if the little people see the big people getting away with huge deals and tax breaks they will wonder why they should be penalised for honesty.  Also, if they ask themselves how come some of these government geezers get so much money so quickly they will wonder how they are getting round the tax implications.

Cash may be for the little people, but many of us happen to like because it is about the only way we can have real control over the getting and spending.  As we know the very idea that people might have control over their own lives is beyond the understanding of our governments.

The cartoon above is from the “Telegraph” and Matt The Great.

A penny for the Gauke?


  1. This is the best post I've read on the issue. People are outraged and presumably Gauke didn't even guess they would be.

    I shall pay cash more often now - even if I have to traipse off to the cash machine.

  2. 100% in agreement. People who do jobs that we can't do for us, do them often when they have spare time, rather than a set time, and give us a rough verbal agreement of the costs, rather than things in writing. Been doing it all our lives and hopefully will continue. Also we try to use local shops all the time. No, it's not as cheap as the supermarket, but it's friendly, and lots is locally grown. We know quite a lot of people who do the same, but like us, they are getting older! Thing that concerns us greatly is possible closure of the smaller post offices/general stores. Our local post office is super efficient, knowledgeable, and friendly.