Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Tradesman morality


Money, what a drag..

Last week David Gauke pronounced that it was immoral to pay tradesmen in cash.

I confess to being a little peeved at this statement. Not because he doesn’t have a point but because a lesson on morality from a politician is like being lectured to by a sewer rat on the virtues of good hygiene. What makes it even harder to take is when that self same politician attempted to avoid stamp duty and fees on the purchase of his second home by claiming them back off the taxpayer to the tune of £10,248.32. That he saw nothing immoral in his own actions but sees immorality everywhere else speaks volumes about the man.

That said I guess he does have a point in that some of that cash probably won’t go through the ‘books’  and as a result HMRC might be down by as much as a few quid. And that is why it was such a pointless statement to make; the sums involved are so utterly trivial when compared to the large corporate tax ‘avoidance’ schemes that plague this country.

If tradesmen had their wits about them they would be scoffing at such minor sleight of hand. Instead they’d be spending everyday at hard graft within their local communities and then declaring to the tax man that all that money was actually earnt by the missus, who is currently sunning herself on a beach in Monaco and is therefore exempt from UK tax.

If the lady of the house is allergic to sun, sea and sand they could always opt for the corporate classic of running most of your business through the UK but then insisting that, despite an enormous head office that’s sited in what looks suspiciously like London, your actual base of operations is a small, bijou, maisonette in downtown Luxembourg. Where by happy chance you pay a heavily discounted level of corporation tax.

If this all sounds too complicated why not just claim that the cash was actually a loan that, for some wholly unexplained reason, doesn’t have to be paid back!

Of course tradesmen don’t get involved in such shenanigans, partly because they don’t make enough money to warrant such deviousness but mainly because they tend to have a much firmer grasp of morality than those people running this country.

Of course there are exceptions. There are people who set themselves up on the sly, don’t register their business with the tax man and hide all of their earnings under the mattress. However, to describe these fly-by-night operators as tradesmen is like describing a politician as honest. In fact these are the people that ruin the reputation of the trades and under-cut honest businesses with their cheap, shoddy work. 

As such I’m more than happy for the chaps down at HMRC to track these people down and throw the book at them... with one caveat; when you do so could you please stop saying that you’ve caught a “plumber” or an “Electrician”. You haven’t! You’ve caught a fraudster who’s been masquerading as a tradesman.

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