SHEDNOTES 64: On Ed Balls and his receipts collection

The Shed is naturally not averse to a cash deal here and there, on the understanding that cash means cash, not a cheque.
So there has been some interest here in Ed Balls dithering over whether he expects every transaction, down to windows cleaned, to be recorded with a receipt.
New Labour, under Blair and Brown, has history to be defended in this direction. Before 1994, the black economy was quite useful to a lot of people, including those who preferred to be without a full-time job but did not mind a bit of this and that – driving for mates who had lost their licence; giving delivery drivers a lift with a heavy consignment; mixing mortar for a brickie; holding the end of the tape for a kitchen fitter …
But under Mr Brown’s direction, the Inland Revenue cracked down on small employers who could not back up their stories of where all the money had gone and the Social cracked down on claimants who were seen out collecting fivers. Bigger outfits were pressured to make sure every contractor’s sub-contractor was properly recorded. The idea was to improve tax takes and incidentally, maybe, discourage dolie culture a bit. It was quite an influential shift of emphasis and there were arguments in its favour. But it had its downsides. It drove some of the unemployed deeper into the sinks. Tradesmen bought technological tools instead of hiring a labourer and then they had to work much faster to pay for the new tools and taxation. Dolies became averse to being seen in the company of a ladder.
There was a bit of resentment, too, at the big-nose intrusiveness of the new system. Is it really a government matter if you pay a bloke from down the pub fifty quid to knock down your shed?
The resentment was doubled when it became clear that the rich were dodging the new rectitude with ease.
Trouble is, The Shed advises, it is very hard to find out what people are earning, either end of the wage ladder. And at the bottom end, it simply doesn’t make sense to tax labour at all. Tax consumption, of raw materials and fossil fuels; tax land; tax imports if you can; but don’t tax work.
moreadvicelater …

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