Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Tuesday 07/04/09

Not much to write about today, as I was in Liverpool all day on a business trip and didn’t get back till late.

I forgot to wish everyone a Happy New Year yesterday. Every financial commentator on the radio yesterday was wishing everyone Happy New Year, as it was the start of the new tax year (6th April in the UK). Given the fact that the financial crisis is now running our lives, I guess it should be thus.

They’ve just brought in some newfangled personal tax allowance and National Insurance scheme here. The net result for me is a loss of taxed income. Why on earth do they bugger about with complex formulae? The simplest way of ensuring equitable taxation is to collect it through what we in the UK call Value Added Tax, or VAT – a tax on all goods and services. If luxury goods are taxed at a higher rate, then the wealthy pay more – simple and elegant. The added benefit is that no-one can avoid taxation in they want to live in the UK and the wealthy pay more by virtue of them spending more and purchasing luxury items. To aid the poor, essentials like food and heating would attract zero VAT. Is there something intrinsically misguided in my proposal?

Have you eaten a fish called Colin lately? A major supermarket chain here in the UK, Sainsbury’s, has decided to re-brand the fish Pollock as colin, which by all accounts is the French name for Pollock. They maintain that the consumption of pollock is down because people are embarrassed to ask for Pollock. Bollocks!

Went to visit mother in Southport yesterday as I had some spare time before a couple of business meetings in Liverpool. I’d done a recce of the meeting venue to identify car parks, and not being 100% familiar with the part of Liverpool I was in I used the satnav to direct me to Southport. It directed me along a route I was well familiar with from my college days, but then advised me to take a detour. Every fibre in my body screamed NO, but I gave in out of curiosity and ended up adding some 20 minutes to the journey.

To add insult to injury, I left mother with about half an hour to spare by the time I would arrive at my meeting venue, only to discover at the halfway point (15 miles) that I’d left my files in mother’s room at the care home. Had to race all the way back to retrieve them and was 15 minutes late for the first meeting. I don’t know about mother having dementia, I think I’m heading that way - fast.

Yesterday the government announced that everyone with a child under 16 is now legally able to request flexible working hours. The paradox is that employers do not have to accede to the request. I’m not sure what the penalty for requesting flexi hours was previously – hanging? I’ve never laughed so much since my gender reassignment. Am I missing something (and I don’t mean from the gender reassignment)?

Hay reported from her conference that the minute delegates start opening their laptops or reaching for their BlackBerries, then the Chinese organisers start scanning the conference hall to eavesdrop on the traffic. I sent her an e-mail saying TIBET. Nothing happened.

She said that the first speaker took up the whole timeslot for the three keynote speakers, but they were all too polite to cut him off, so they ended up running late by about 45 minutes. Also the Chinese answer their mobiles and have loud conversations in the lecture theatre while speakers are addressing the conference – no-one seems at all bothered. A bit chaotic, to say the least.

Here’s a photo contribution from my visit to Liverpool yesterday:

It’s the entrance to Chinatown in Liverpool.

Ever heard of a game called pub golf? It’s all the rage in Henley – a couple of miles from where I used to live. The game involves drinking nine different drinks on a ‘course’ comprising nine different pubs while dressed up as golfers. Players have a scorecard and gain maximum points by downing each drink in one. Landlords are a bit pissed off, as they don’t know whether they are the first pub on the 9 ‘hole’ course, or the last. Part of the Queen's Head was wrecked during a recent game. One participant said:” "I can't see the harm in it, you can call it binge drinking but everyone does it every weekend anyway." A rum do, if you ask me.


  1. I can't agree with you about VAT - your suggestion would mean that those who could afford it would buy elsewhere. I would like to see income tax and income tax only - well perhaps.

    1. National Income Tax - in how ever many bands you like but with a negative component at the the bottom - if your earn less than £XXX a year then the state brings it up to that figure.

    2. Local Income Tax instead of rates or poll tax or what ever it's called now.

    Any income to be taxable - that would include expenses, benefits, allowances etc.

    Put road tax and compulsory third party insurance onto the cost of petrol.

    No more VAT, special car tax, road tax etc.

    Richard x x x

  2. Richard - where else would one buy if located in the UK?

    The rich hide their income and so avoid or evade income tax. Add it to VAT and they can't avoid it. VAT will still apply to imports.

  3. I like the idea of abolishing income tax and adding it to VAT. Mind you, given that people can be classed as living in poverty if they don't have a TV and video recorder, makes you wonder what they would include in the 'Luxury Item High VAT bracket'... Perhaps flash cars will be considered a necessity for politicians and lawyers, etc..
    As for the Chinese conference - different than the way that decisions are made in the EU, but any less (or more!) effective?
    LOL at the emailing of TIBET to Hay.

  4. Has Hay seen them spitting yet? They do that quite a lot.
    Your ideas on taxation are good, but would that give them enough money to pay the bankers their bonuses?

  5. Richard: Hang on old mate - just clocked your proposal to tax my expenses. Why the hell should I be taxed on money I spend on business expenses (like business meals, business petrol, train fares, telephones, etc) when all I'm doing is reclaiming money from my employer that comes out of my pocket to support his business?

  6. You are already taxed on some of your expenses I’m afraid – or you should be – the rules are complicated but are there – for example if you went to Liverpool regularly – every fortnight perhaps -= you could be taxed on your train fares – I believe that there has to be a regular element to it but none-the-less some of your expenses are taxable.

    Equally there is a moral element to it I believe - if you are buying bath-plugs and porn on your employed you should be taxed on it!

    And of course we have to fund the £39 billion hole in the revenue (and I really hope that is an American billion not a British billion and taxing your expenses would certainly help!

    Richard x x x

  7. Richard: My benefits (the Rolls, Armani suits, the Lear Jet, etc.) are taxed, as they should be, but my legitimate business expenses are not - nor should they be, or else I'd be out of pocket when performing activities on behalf of my company.

  8. I like Richard's scheme for the negative component - I'd earn more money !
    Do they have tax loopholes like in France ? The richest people in France can get out of paying any income tax at all and even, with the new tax cap, get tax rebates because they didn't put a limit on the back-dating of the new cap !

  9. I want higher taxes on the rich, who manage to shirk or hide most of their real income in any case, while honest Johnnies, or Billys end up paying taxes on all that we eat, drive, on the clothes we wear, through work, binge-drining and any and all utilities we use or do not use, etc...

    "Tax The Rich.." Ooer, I thought I was on a Sixties Demo there for a mo'...

  10. I agree with you on VAT. Tax consumption, not hard work.