Summer 2006 Newsletter


Brave New World

Business Not Pleasure

Summertime Blues

All That Glitters...

Casting The Net

Trust Gordon?

It Ain't Over...

One In The Eye

Keep Your Nose Clean

Foreign Affairs

When Is A Car...

Don't Walk Away

Avoiding, The Issue

Brown Is Anti-PC

VAT's Up Doc?

Fuel's Gold

An Age-old Question?

That's Unfair!

Year In Year Out

How Hard To Try?

It's A Rip-Off!

Outlaws Win

Show Some Restraint

Not Our Problem

They Cannot Be Serious?


Pension Disappointments


The authorities have been losing a staggering amount of money to "carousel fraud" over the last few years. It works like this: a dodgy dealer buys a lot of mobile phones or computer chips, and sells them to an honest trader, charging VAT. The honest trader pays the money and claims the VAT back from Customs. Meanwhile, Dodgy has scarpered with the whole of the proceeds, and Customs never see the money. It's not very sophisticated, but the losses are huge: billions of pounds go astray every year. If they could stop these frauds tomorrow, we could all pay a lot less income tax.

Customs tried to stem the tide by arguing that Honest Trader couldn't claim the VAT back. That might be a bit harsh on Honest, but Customs reckoned that they shouldn't have to pick up the tab when Honest made a mistake - particularly as the tab was so large, and there were so many Honests who Customs suspected ought to be a little more careful who they do business with.

The European Court has ruled that Customs can't refuse the VAT claim if the honest trader really bought goods and really didn't know that a fraud was intended. It's quite hard for Customs to prove either that the goods never existed or that the trader was implicated in the fraud - usually the fraudsters were plausible people who will have long gone by the time Customs arrive.

This means that Customs are looking to change the rules for trading in computer chips and mobile phones to try to plug the leaks in a different way. If you are involved in these areas, watch for the changes and try not to get involved in a fraud. If you are not involved, wish Customs luck - we could all be better off if they succeed!