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Friday, 13 January 2012

Life of Brian

Life's little challenges. Put there in the way of blissful contentment to remind you that existance is not a free lunch.

Why is there VAT charged on Dog Food, but not on Bird Seed? Why when I sign up to unlimited UK calls does it suddenly mean I'm hanging on for at least 20 minutes before anyone answers the phone. Why after more years than I care to recall do I still don't believe in Einstein's Theory of Special Relativity? Is there anything I can do about my "spoonerisms" which now litter my daily speech to an embarressing extent.

The VAT thing really got my goat. I made the fatal step of "googling". It gets worse. There is no VAT on working dog food according to Yahoo! Answers. My next stop was HMRC's VAT web page. 

I'm not sure that I hadn't overdosed last night on Sanatogen because the VAT web page had a distinctly hallucinogenic feel to it. My "trip" began with the Section headed "Live Animals". My disorientation increased on learning that whilst the "honey bee" is zero VAT rated, the "bumble bee" isn't - it pays 20% VAT. I was fascinated to learn that whilst most meat on sale in the shops is zero rated kangaroo meat is not.

It pays to choose you pet carefully. Whether you pay VAT on your new pet depends on whether or not it's of a kind that is usually for human consumption. So if you have a choice between that sweet chihauhau or a bunny rabbit; chose Dylan as he's zero rated. This also explains why honey bees are zero rated and bumble bees are not.

I have to say this page is not so much one of life's challenge as one of it's joys. How can anyone not be enchanted by the section on  embryos, eggs and semen for breeding. I was thrilled to learn that embryos of species which are normally used for human food may be zero-rated if they are to be used for breeding. However, anything below the embryo stage is standard-rated.

Should you consider becoming a sperm donor don't forget to add that extra 20%: it'll make all the difference.

What about dog food and bird seed? The Vat man says that most food fed to animals can be zero rated, except processed animal foods - tins, packaged etc. That's because in processing the basic material value has been added. Which explains my original little query.

The VAT question links in nicely with the second annoyance, which is why nowadays you invariably find yourself hanging on the telephone for hours.

My wife's business partner is in the process of setting up as a Sound Therapist - you pay to sit in a room while she bangs gongs or blows whistles. The question arose whether she could claim set up cost as a business expense before she was trading. I thought she couldn't but wanted to check with the Revenue. I phoned their Stockton on Tees office and the phone rang and rang and rang....

For more than 20 minutes. During the wait I thought about hanging up, but was prevented from so doing by the thought that if I did I'd have to go through the agony all over again. I eventually got thro', no doubt the office had been vacated for a fire drill or a fag break, and my query was answered by a technical adviser.

I first came across Einstein's theory of relativity at university. I didn't believe it then and I don't believe it now. As far as I'm concerned an inch is an inch irrespective of any frame of reference. I know it's been proved that he was right and I'm stupid but that's the way it is. Frankly from my point of view - I'm right.

As for spoonerisms: I'm getting desperate. Last night when talking about plumbing and turning off the water supply. "Cockstop" tripped off my tongue without any sense of embarrassment or awkwardness. As did "Parcarking.

People initially on hearing such errors laugh, thinking it's quite fun except when it continues and then I start to get strange looks and that makes me feel extremely self conscious and the errors grow and grow. What do I can?


Steve said...

There is no VAT on working dog food? Working dog food? What is non working dog food? Inedible?

Anonymous said...

Back in 2002 a High Court judge ruled that the VAT man is perfectly entitled to pursue prostitutes. Mr Justice Jacob decided that members of the world's oldest profession should not be allowed to exploit a loophole because of their illegal activities and avoid paying VAT.
The case followed an earlier VAT tribunal ruling that an escort agency was unlawful and therefore could not be taxed.

The tribunal said the business "consists wholly, or at least very substantially, of the procurement of women for the purposes of their becoming common prostitutes".

When the tribunal found that the agency was "straightforwardly criminal", it meant that Customs and Excise could not claim VAT.

The owners had always claimed their business was lawful but said their turnover was below the threshold for VAT. But the judge overturned the ruling. He said: "I conclude that this case is not within the very narrow rules which allow moral scruple by a paradox to reward criminality by exempting it from taxation."

Under EU harmonisation of taxation, VAT is payable on a wide range of services without any difference being drawn over whether it is legal or illegal. Only drug dealing and counterfeit money apparently escape being taxed.

So there!

Marginalia said...

Steve, A lazy mutt?

Marginalia said...

I'm sure we're all grateful to our learned friend's views.