The News In Shorts

How the news would look if everyone stopped waffling and told the truth.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Want To Know A Tax Dodging Secret?

David Gauke from the Treasury has been telling us all that is "morally repugnant" for tradesmen to be paid "cash-in-hand." Meanwhile moves are afoot for betting shops to be allowed to operate more gambling machines. Yet betting shop chains are some of the biggest tax dodgers in the country and actually operate a scam that reduces their tax bill by millions every year. The scam is quite difficult to understand so, if you're a tax inspector or MP, pay close attention. It involves an apparent confidence trick known as the "slow count." The conman waits until a dog race is about to begin and hands in a slip with an ambiguous stake making unclear whether he is betting £2 or £200. The hapless betting shop employee rings into the till £200 and then waits a few seconds as the conman apparently struggles to count his money, all the while keeping one eye on the race to see if his dog is going to win. If it looks as if it will he happily hands over £200 confident that he's about to scoop several hundred pounds in return. If it looks as if his dog is about to lose he feigns surprise and tells the cashier that the bet was only for £2. These conmen are well known and their pictures adorn various areas out of sight of the customers while cashiers are warned every day as to where these people are operating. But, in a busy shop when ordinary customers are thrusting betting slips into the cashiers face from all directions it is easy to be caught out and accept the bet. Not that that matters much since it quickly becomes obvious what is going on and it is highly unlikely that the manager will allow the bet to be paid out. And, even if the conman manages to pull off the trick, he is no more likely to pick a winner than anyone else. Despite these obvious drawbacks the conmen continue to criss-cross the country, spending huge amounts of money for transport, overnight accomodation and eating out. Why? Because the conmen are actually paid by the betting shop chains to pull the con. You see if the bet is rung into the till the betting shops record a loss not for the lesser stake of say £2 but for the greater stake of £200. This despite the fact that the bet is voided and no money has actually changed hands. And, because it is recorded as a loss, no tax is payable on that amount. It is a tax dodge pure and simple and is happening up and down the country seven days a week, 365 days a year, saving the gambling industry millions in tax every year. As an added bonus any cashier who inadvertantly accepts such a bet is formally warned for his or her transgression, making it easier to sack them if business demands it. Lovely isn't it?

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