To add to the stew of stress that Bert and I have been experiencing this year Bert has had an impending Inland Revenue investigation hanging over him. The reason being (we think) that the IR cannot understand why Bert bothered in 2001, as he appears to have made no profits. And as far as we can recall he didn’t.
So why did Bert become self-employed? There are two reasons. The first is that he did not want to work for anyone else and the second is that he wanted to do something. And horticulture was what he was good at. He did not become self-employed because he wanted to be rich. Most self-employed people aren’t rich anyway
I was listening to the Today programme as I returned from work this morning and I heard this argument for a flat-rate tax. I also heard the Shadow Chancellor say that the number of people working in tax collection has increased by 64000 since 1999. I thought to myself that this might well be the reason why Bert has been called to account by the Inland Revenue. Too many tax inspectors needing something to do.
The following are some of the questions fired at him by the civil servant.
What are you driving? Why no car?
Where did you get the money to concrete that lane? If you say your elderly mother gave it to you from the box of fivers she keeps under her bed we’ll do her too.
If you cannot explain where you got the money from we’ll assume you’re working in a cash economy and have been doing so all along and will bill you accordingly.
Why have you not taken a holiday for four years?
Are Zoë, Katy and Hannah still living with you? Are they working? Are they students?
Why do you keep your dealings with M******* Garden Centre in a separate book? (1)
How much does Nelly earn?
Who buys the groceries?
How often do you go out for a meal? (2)
Where do you get the cash for birthday presents? (3)
That woodland you own. Do you sell Christmas trees of it? We can come and see for ourselves you know.
I’m not calling you a liar. We’re not allowed to do that any more.
And there was much more of the same. The civil servant cub was obviously one of the 64000 cutting his teeth on a man with a shoestring business and a cheap accountant.
Bert is wondering why he bothers. Why not just wrap it all up and go unemployed. The truth is that if you don’t fit into the Norman Normal box you are a suspect. Naughty Bert. Hardly ever uses a credit card, doesn’t have debt, lives within his means, doesn’t spend, spend, spend. Not a good citizen at all. Not doing his bit to make fat cats even richer. Just quietly growing the best clematis in Norn Iron.
- Because they are the only concern where he operates a sale or return policy.
- His answer was 6-8 times a year. I suggested he should have said, “Do I look like I go out for meals Fat Boy?”
- He actually did growl, “I don’t do birthdays.”