Government say it is 'morally wrong' to pay cash-in-hand
Treasury Minister David Gauke doesn't like it when people avoid tax. Gauke has gone as far as to say that it is "morally wrong", but obviously, only when it concerns plumbers, builders and the like, when they're getting cash-in-hand payments.
He's arguing that this practice comes at "a big cost" to the Treasury, which is estimated to be around £2bn each year.
Gauke said: "When a tradesman says, 'Here's a 10%, a 20% discount on your bill if you pay me cash in hand' that is facilitating the hidden economy. That's as big a problem in terms of loss to the Exchequer as tax avoidance. Revenue is not being paid as it should be paid."
"Getting a discount with your plumber by paying cash in hand is something that is a big cost to the Revenue and means others have to pay more in tax. I think it is morally wrong. It is illegal for the plumber but it is pretty implicit in those circumstances that there is a reason why there is a discount for cash."
Revenue and Customs spokesman Cliff Hathaway replied: "We are doing everything we can with our resources to plug all the gaps. We need to get people's minds on the fact it might only be £100 in your case but, if you add that up across the United Kingdom, it comes to billions of pounds every year."
So, the lesson here is that, if you're a tradesman or Jimmy Carr, you can expect the government to come down hard on you... but if you're Vodafone or a giant bank, you can just carry on as normal. In fact, if you're a politician with a huge off-shore account, taking money out of the country and allowing it to grow, so you can add it to your existing vast fortune, that's also fine.
In completely unrelated news, Prime Minister David Cameron thinks using offshore schemes are "morally wrong" and Chancellor George Osborne said, in his Budget speech, that tax avoidance as "morally repugnant".