Barely maintained website for the international polymath dabster, incredibly shallow intellectual and sympathetic contrarian identified most often as "theaardvark".
Self identified snoozephile and former European champion cunctator, theaardvark is available for consultation, evacuation and repairs to reputation.
Qui dormit vincit
Dark rave hat. White hat VAT hacker. Grey hat MP3 Jockey. Black hat philosophist. Hard hat family man. Family Motto: Qui dormit vincit
Ok here goes. I'm far more worked up about this than is either understandable or reasonable and it's way too long to put on a tweet. Maybe this is what G+ is for.
The Chancellor hasn't just introduced a #pastytax. He hasn't even changed the rules to tax something that wasn't taxed before. He's simply clarified existing rules to stamp out some of the clever tax avoidance wheezes that UK Uncut get so animated about.
Let's get this straight. Most food is zero-rated. (VAT is charged but at 0%). If you buy a sausage roll off the shelf at a supermarket you won't pay VAT. The reason for this is because the 1970s UK Govt felt food was so essential you shouldn't have to pay VAT on it. However, the ability to eat out at restaurants or buy takeaway was not felt to be so important. We have to eat. We don't have to eat at The Dorchester or McDonald's. Or Greggs. So that food subject to VAT.
Problem is, how do you tell the difference between the two? What's the difference between a supermarket microwave chicken korma and one from your local balti restaurant? Now how do you write that difference in law?
The UK Govt came up with 2 fairly simple rules to tell the 2 types of food apart.
1) Any food sold to be eaten on the seller's premises (sounds like a restaurant / cafe, right?)
2) Any "hot food" sold to be eaten on or off the premises (sounds like a takeaway or fast food joint, right?)
Everything was hunky dory at that. For 20 odd years everyone knew what was intended and accepted it. But then some of the big companies started to push at the margins. They found weaknesses in the way the law was worded and exploited them.
One of them argued that when it sold sausage rolls it didn't deliberately sell them hot. They were cold sausage rolls that just happened to still be hot because they'd only just come out of the oven. And look.... nowhere in the shop did it say that they were "hot". And a judge bought it. HMRC lost the case.
Someone else argued that when they sold toasted paninis they toasted them so they would be crisp and to release the flavour, not so they would be hot. And a judge bought it.
Supermarkets ran a similar argument with the hot roast chickens and spare ribs they sold.
Suddenly these large companies weren't paying VAT on stuff that had always been vatable.
And it is / was mainly large companies that were doing it. Most small companies couldn't afford the expensive consultants to tell them how to exploit these wonderful wheezes (I know, I used to be one of the expensive consultants). Or the expensive lawyers to find new wonderful wheezes.
So what George Osborne has done is not to tax a formerly untaxed staple food of the common people. No, he's simply tightened up the rules to ensure that restaurant / fast food outlets, which are a bit of a luxury, are paying the VAT they should. (And Gregg's, for all their posturing, are a fast food outlet. They're no more bakers than Subway is. If you have to pay VAT on your McDonald's burger, why not your Gregg's sausage roll.)
And don't think for one minute that Gregg's et al are complaining about this change for your benefit. They found and exploited these loopholes to make more money. They know that you'll pay £1.50 for their sausage roll. So they'll charge you £1.50 whether or not they have to pay 25p of it to the Govt.
Now I'm not normally one to rant on about thieving businesses and tax avoidance. I used to work in the industry that advised these people. I believe that, within reason, businesses are free to organise their affairs in such a way to pay less tax within the law. And if Govt writes laws that are so vague that this sort of thing happens then it's up to the Govt to rewrite those laws.
What has really got my goat is the disingenuous way that Greggs (in particular) has spun this attempt to put the mockers on their little tax dodge into a class war in which nasty toff Osborne is stealing more money from the hard working, usually working class, pasty eater.
In an interview last night, Greggs' CEO or some such portrayed Greggs as class warriors defending the rights of the working man to eat his sausage roll VAT free. Whereas, they have been a tax avoiding big business whose actions, along with others, have resulted in this ridiculous situation. I was fair shouting at the TV in spittle flecked fury by the time he was done. And what makes it worse is that the meedja is lapping it all up. Bloody Ed Miliband was showing solidarity buying sausage rolls at Greggs. Whoever is doing the PR for Greggs is out tonight celebrating a job well done with a magnum of champagne and the biggest bag of cocaine you have ever seen, all on company expenses.
So, there you go. Fuck me , that turned into an essay. Sorry. It started out as a paragraph. If you've made it this far through I apologize and I promise to find a way to give those 10 minutes back. Take comfort from the fact that it took me way longer to write on the touch screen of my smartphone than it took you to read.
The Inno Pocket Wash is a brand-new moving head wash-effect light from American DJ with a bewildering array of possible DMX settings. American DJ's myDMX 1.0 is a, now franky ancient, DMX control interface and software package. No one writes device profiles for myDMX 1 anymore. And, as far as I can tell, no one's written a profile for the 19 channel and 21 channel modes of the Inno Pocket Wash at all.
So, I wrote one myself.
One night 10 or 11 years ago I booked a woman to supply a casino table at the disco I was doing. I didn't know her very well but we'd worked together 9 or 10 times over 4 or 5 years and we were on first name terms . After she finished, at the end of her night she came to say goodbye behind the decks where I was still working.
Before she left she leaned over to kiss me on the cheek. I was surprised by this overly familiar gesture and I hesitated briefly before returning the gesture.
The instant that I did so I realised she hadn't been leaning in to kiss my check but to say something the noise of music and I'd just overstepped the mark, I'd uninvited kissed a relative stranger.
Instantly, I was mortified. Before I even broke contact the embarrassment of my faux pas exploded white hot across my face, tracked fire through every muscle and solidified like hot lead in my gut. I attempted to style it out like I'd meant it, like it was the most common thing in the world. But I barely managed to smile weakly at her as she looked slightly taken aback before she turned and walked away.
I'm sure lady in question hardly remembers the event, if at all. Indeed, having not worked together for 10 years, I'd be surprised if she recalled either me or that night at all.
But, when I'm lying in bed at 4am feeling a little stressed because I've got to get up in 2 hours and I've not slept at all, this memory is one off a select, torturous few that my mind dusts off, dials up the colour and contrast on and plays on loop for my delectation.
There are important moments in my life that I can remember but the haziest wisps of. This, though; this is there in 4k, IMAX Technicolor with 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound. I know exactly where it was and more detail of what was happening around me than I remember of my own wedding. I don't remember the woman's face or clothes, although I can picture the room easily. But most of all I remember the stomach tightening, face flushing, muscle burning embarrassment of it, because I get I small facsimile of that dread feeling every time the memory, undesired and unbidden, replays in my head.
And what better way to deal with such an occassion than to get up and hand code some writing about it on this bloody ridiculous website.
The origin of Murphy’s Laws, which are very often misquoted and interchanged, are reputed to date back to the end of the Second World War, when industrial safety was becoming important in the USA. Legislation was being enacted and prosecutions were following. One large employer needed a way to allow his employees to remember the law and to appreciate the consequences of ill-considered or daft actions. He found a recently demobbed cartoonist who he employed to draw pictures of these actions and to apply a moral. The cartoonist's name was Lieutenant Murphy.
SHORT COMPILATION OF THE VARIOUS LAWS AFFECTING HUMAN LIFE
1. Inanimate objects act in a manner which is inversely proportional to the desirability of that action except when the law is subject to proof.
2. If anything can go wrong, It will.
3. Where there is a possibility of more than one component going wrong, the one to go wrong will be the one which causes the greatest damage or disruption.
4. Where there a 'n' ways for disruption to occur and these have been circumvented, an n+1 way will promptly occur.
5. Every solution breeds new problems
6. Where any project requires 'n' components, there will always be 'n- 1' in stock.
7. Any material cut exactly to size will prove to be too short.
8. Identical units tested under identical conditions and giving identical results will not be identical in the field.
9. A device selected at random from a group known to have 99% reliability will be a member of the 1% group.
THE MURPHY PHILOSOPHY
10. Smile, tomorrow will be worse.
11. Murphy was an optimist
THE HARVARD LAW
12. Under rigorously controlled conditions the device under test will do as it damn well pleases.
MURPHY’S 1st LAW
13. Where an item can be incorrectly assembled, sooner or later it will be.
14. Events occur in the inverse ratio of their desirability.
15. It'll never work.
16. It'll never fly
NEWTON’S SEVENTH LAW OF GRAVITATION
17. A bird in the hand is safer than one overhead.
Stapp's ironical paradox
18. The universal aptitude for ineptitude makes any human accomplishment an incredible miracle
SELECTIVE LAW OF GRAVITATION.
19. A dropped object will land where it will do most damage.
CRAPPER’S LAW OF REVERSE GRAVITATION
20. Water will splash to a height in excess of the drop height of the object causing the splash.
21. Leakproof seals will.
HORNER’S FIVE THUMB POSTULATE
22. Experience gained varies directly with the amount of equipment lost or ruined.
23. When all else fails - read the instructions.
CHISOLM’S LAY OF INTERACTION
24. When things seem to be going better, you have forgotten something.
25. That number which when added to, subtracted from, multiplied by or divided into the answer obtained gives the answer which should have been obtained.
26. The more innocuous a design change, the further will its influence extend.
27. The necessity for design changes increases proportionately with the approach of completion.
28. The probability of a dimension having been missed from a plan or drawing is directly proportionate to its importance.
29. The quality of a delivery date is inversely proportional to the tightness of the schedule.
FINANGLE'S FOURTH LAW
30. Once a project is fouled up, any action taken to improve the situation will only make thing worse.
PRINCIPLE OF ORDERING
31. Items necessary for today's work must be ordered no later than tomorrow.
LAW OF APPLIED CONFUSE
32. The one item not included in the shipment is the item supporting 90% of the work to be undertaken.
33. Sooner or later, every assembled object will fall apart.
MURPHY’S LAW OF THERMODYNAMICS
34. Things get worse under pressure.
35. A can of worms, once opened, may only be re-confined by using a larger can.
36. An Easter egg, once unwrapped, may never be re-wrapped by the same wrapper, no matter how much has been eaten.
NON-RECIPROCAL LAWS OF EXPECTATIONS
37. Negative Expectations yield negative results.
38. Positive expectations yield negative results.
39. That which begins well, ends badly:
40. That which begins badly, ends badly.
41. The first myth of management is that it exists.
42. Nobody really knows what is going on anywhere in the organisation.
THE PETER PRINCIPLE
43. In any hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to the level of his incompetence.
44. In time, every post will be occupied by an employee, who is not competent to carry out his duties.
45. Work is only accomplished by these who have not achieved their level of incompetence.
45. "The Dilbert Principle". Promote people to where they can no longer do any harm.
46. A successful business only promotes the second best candidate.
47. Technology is dominated by two types of people:-
48. Those who manage that which they do not understand.
49. Those who do not manage that which they understand.
50. Those who can, do - those who cannot, teach.
51. Those who cannot teach, administrate.
52. There are two types of people: those who divide into two types and those who don't.
53. The man who smiles when all around him is converted to chaos has just thought of someone on whom to lay the blame.
54. It works better if you plug it in.
55. Where it is not possible to convince the opposition, confuse them.
THE MILITARY AXIOM.
56. Any order which could be misunderstood has been misunderstood.
57. The order which cannot be misunderstood has not yet been given.
58. Nothing is impossible to the person who doesn’t have to do it.
59. It is impossible to determine the depth of a puddle until you have stepped into it.
60. The simplest of ideas will be worded in the most complicated of ways.
61. The proliferation of new laws merely creates a proliferation of new loopholes.
62. Friends come and go but enemies accumulate.
63. To make an enemy, do someone a favour.
THE PENNY POSTULATE
64. You can fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time, but only a idiot will try to fool the wife.
THE FIRST LAW OF SOCIO-GENETICS
65. Celibacy is not hereditary.
THE BIEFIELS PRINCIPLE
66. The probability of a young man meeting a desirable and receptive young female increases by pyramidal progression when he is in the company of:-
- a date,
- his wife,
- a better looking and richer male colleague.
PARKINSON’S SECOND LAW
70. Expenditure always rises to meet income.
JOHN’S COLLATERAL THEORY
71. In Order to obtain a financial loan, it is first necessary to prove that you do not need it.
72. You can lead a horse to water, but if you can get him to float on his back you have got something.
73. Every revolutionary idea in the field of human activity evokes four stages of reaction, which may be summed up as:-
- Impossible - don’t waste my time.'
- Yes, possible, but not worth the effort.
- 'A good idea, that.'
- 'A good idea of mine, that.'
78. The other queue always moves faster.
79. No matter how much research is put into the purchase of an item, it will always be available at a lower price subsequent to the purchase.
LEWIS’S SECOND LAW
80. An item subject to delayed purchase will no longer be available.
80. A lost item is always found in the last place searched.
LAW OF TRANSPORTATION
81. The probability of transport being late corresponds with the probability of the connection being on time or early.
82. To err is human, to really foul things tip needs a computer.
THE BOG ROLL THEORY OF STRUCTURES FAILURE
83. A material will tear at any point other than where it is so designed to tear.
Borat Accounts Law of tax returns #1
79. If is think client is disappear, client is always come back begging on 30 Jan
84. Never eat prunes when famished,
85. Where you stand on an issue depends on where you sit.
86. Never play leapfrog with a unicorn.
87. If you try to please everybody, nobody will like it.
88. The little you do, you do do well.
89. Nobody's life, liberty or possessions are safe when the legislature is sitting.
90. If you play around with anything for long enough, it is inevitable that you will screw it up.
91. A dropped tool will always roll to a point beyond reach.
92. If it won't move, force it. If it breaks, it needed replacing anyway.
93. If it didn't move, the hammer wasn't big enough.
94. Towers which withstand the gales are radically over engineered.
95. 'Sealed for life' is just that.
96. A level crossing never is.
97. Interchangeable won't.
98. Nature always sides with the hidden flaw.
99. There is always one more bug.
100. All warranties expire on payment of invoice.
101. Anything being repaired will always take longer than thought.
102. The repairer will never have seen a model like yours.
103. A broken appliance will always function perfectly when demonstrated for the repairer.
104. The transistor will protect the fuse by blowing first.
105. If you are not part of the solution, you must be part of the problem.
106. Create a system which a fool can use and only a fool will use it.
107. A pipe gives a wise man time to think and a fool something to stick in his mouth.
108. I'm working under this slight handicap, being human.
109. When in doubt, mumble - when in trouble, delegate.
110. It would be easier to play one's part in life if there was a script.
111. No good deed goes unpunished.
112. Cheer up, things may get worse at a slower rate.
113. All I ask is the chance to prove that money can't make me happy.
114. All I want is a little more than I'll ever get.
115. I'm not being paid much for staying alive, but it's good experience.
116. The race is not always to the swift nor the battle to the strong, but that is the way to bet.
117. I know you are stronger than me .......... but it’s your turn to surrender.
118. The light at the end of the tunnel is the headlamp of an on-coming train.
119. I know you're stronger than me but it’s your turn to surrender.
120. To know yourself is the ultimate form of aggression. Freud.
121. All I want is more energy ........... or less ambition.
122. I only want the power ............... none of the responsibility.
123. I think I'll just sit here till life gets a little easier.
124. I hope I get what I want before I stop wanting it.
125. It is morally wrong to allow suckers to keep their money.
126. If more than one person is responsible for a cock-up, no one is at fault.
127. If things don't improve soon, I'll have to ask you to stop helping.
128. You've reached me just in time - I was beginning to feel confident again.
129. Please don't tell me to relax, it's only the tension that's holding me together.
130. Sometimes I understand everything perfectly, then some clown wakes me up.
131. Do let me know what is going on, I would hate to miss the monotony.
132. Good leaders are scarce, go follow yourself.
133. Inform all the troops that communications have completely broken down.
134. Never argue with a fool, people might not discern the difference.
135. Rubbish in, rubbish out. Sense in, still rubbish out.
Accident: Ignorance, idiocy or inattention, an event that is neither predictable nor preventable by normal caution.
Cynicism is nothing more than a useful tool.
Kraft CEO Scrooge McFuck: Gentlemen! We have a problem.
Audible groans are heard from around the extremely large boardroom table along with a slightly too loud whisper of "fuck, not this shit again."
SMcF: We are not making enough money on our chocolate! We need to make this crap for less and sell it for more! And if we don't do it by the end of this week you lot are all being reassigned to the Dairy Lee Dunkers assembly like. Got it?
Cadbury's new 22 year old MD Tarquin McFuck1: I have an idea!
SMcF: For the last time, we are not putting smack into our chocolate to make it "a little more more-ish". Focus group tests showed that customers who became hooked on smack stopped buying chocolate so it's not a long term bet.
TMcF: No, no. I have a different idea. We can do what my coke dealer does.
SMcF: What, offer free product in return for sexual favours?
TMcF: No! And that's not true! He really loved me. He just had too much love to restrict it to just the one person..... Anyway, no. All we have to do is to cut out chocolate with something else that's cheaper to buy.
Cadbury R&D Boss Josephine Mangler: We've already tried that. The British public are whiney bastards. Any hint of a drop in quality of their dear-beloved Cadbury Dairy Milk crap and they're all over Twitter like mustard gas on a poppy field.
TMcF: Aha! What you have to do is convince them that it's a good thing. When I was over in Hollywood laying low whilst daddy was buying off the girl in that sexual assault thingy, all the kids of rich, out-of-work actors were all buying Strawberry Coke by the half-ounce. They loved it. It was coke that smelt and tasted like strawberries. But only cos the dealers were cutting their regular coke with Strawberry Nesquick.
SMcF: Holy shit kid, maybe your mum's sub-par IQ genes haven't totally messed any chance of you achieving something! That could actually work. Josephine, my sweet chocolate bitch, what do we produce that's cheaper than chocolate but which those walking piles of tooth decay and type-2 diabetes lap up with equal vigour?
JM: Only fucking everything. Sweets, candies, jellies, honeycomb and, for some fucked up reason, Turkish Delight! Oh, and they're really into that old shit from the 80s that we're scraping off the floor of the derelict warehouse at the moment.
SMcF: Superb. Take a load of that, stir it into as little chocolate as you can get away with and start shipping it immediately. Oh, and get those soulless copyright-ignoring bastards in marketing to give a name and packaging that makes it sound marvellous!
And that, ladies and blokes, is how we ended up here:
Tarquin McFuck is the youngest ever MD at Cadbury having achieved this position immediately after getting a 2/2 in his Harry Potter Studies degree at Durham University. He earned this position totally on merit and the similarity in surname to Kraft's Scrooge McFuck is entirely coincidental, caused as it is my Scrooge being his father. ↩
Since I first saw the Jubilee Ltd Edition Tabasco Sauce and the Ma'amite limited edition, I've known what had to be done.
6 weeks ago I had a trial run with Tabasco and Bovril on toast and it was superb. http://aard.at/N1MCl1
This weekend I finally picked up a jar Ma'amite so it had to be done.
- Toast, hot & buttered
- 2 teaspoons Marmite
- 4 / 5 drops Tabasco Sauce
- Cheese (optional)
Makes 2-3 pieces of toast.
This may seem like a lot of Tabasco sauce for just 2 teaspoons of Marmite. However, when spread thinly on toast it shouldn't be too spicy.
After I'd made Spicy Marmite on Toast it seemed too good to waste just eating plain. So, with the next 2 slices, I threw some cheese on top and grilled it for Spicy Marmite Cheesy Toast. Top dollar!
My biggest problem with this recipe is the amount of Marmite wasted in the little mixing bowl.
C: "Can I sign you up for a half hour slot in our sponsored row?"
aard: "No, I'm sorry. I can't."
C: "Come on. It's just half an hour on a rowing machine. It's for charity and you don't even have to row that hard really. Just coast."
aard: "I'm sorry. It's against my religion."
C: "Oh, right. I didn't realise. Apologies. What religion are you?"
aard: "Church of the Latter Day Lazy Bastards"
VAT is a large and, to many, scary subject. For many companies their VAT liabilities far outweigh their corporation tax liabilities and yet they know next to nothing about its operation. The following is a bloody quick guide to the subject.
Scope of VAT
VAT is a tax on transactions. With certain exceptions, VAT is chargeable on each and every transaction carried out for a business purpose. It is intended to be neutral on businesses within the supply chain with the liability ending up with the end consumer. For this reason VAT registered, taxable businesses making purchases on which they are charged VAT can reclaim it (subject to exceptions).
UK VAT Legislation is contained mainly in the VAT Act 1994 and the VAT Regulations 1995. It is based entirely upon the EC 6th Directive (rewritten in 2006 as the Principal VAT Directive) , which tells all EU Member States how their VAT system should work.
Should I be registered?
If your taxable income (non-exempt income, see 5) over the last 12 months exceeds the registration threshold (£81,000 as at April 2014) you must register for VAT. If your expected taxable income over the next 30 days will exceed the threshold you must register for VAT. If your turnover is less than this you can choose to register for VAT. You will normally only want to do this if your customers are able to recover VAT (i.e. VAT registered businesses).
Accounting for VAT
VAT registered businesses are required to submit VAT returns. On these returns you declare how much VAT you have charged to your customers. Against this you can reclaim the VAT you have been charged on your purchases (subject to exceptions, see 6). The difference is paid to, or claimed from, HM Revenue & Customs. You are required to keep adequate records to back up these returns.
Most goods and services are subject to VAT at the standard-rate of 20%. There are however other liabilities. - The reduced-rate of 5% applies to domestic fuel & power, renovation and alteration of empty dwellings, residential conversions and women’s sanitary products. - The zero-rate is a positive rate of VAT calculated at 0%. Zero-rated transactions are taxable transactions and count toward taxable turnover in 3 above. They include sales of food, books, children’s clothing, exports, medicines and some construction services. - Exempt supplies, on the other hand, are not taxable ; they are exempt from VAT. They include insurance, financial transactions, betting, education, health supplies, land and some postal services.
In general a VAT registered business is entitled to claim back the VAT incurred on purchases made in the course of its business. This is called Input VAT. There are some restrictions. Businesses cannot reclaim VAT on any costs that do not relate to taxable supplies (e.g. VAT incurred in making an exempt supply and VAT incurred on private or non-business expenses). Also specifically restricted is input VAT on business entertainment (entertaining non-employees) and cars not used exclusively for a business purpose.
As per 6 above, companies who make exempt supplies (see 5) cannot recover Input VAT on associated purchases. Companies who make exempt and taxable supplies will have some purchases (mostly overheads) that cannot be attributed directly to either type of supply. VAT on these costs must be apportioned using a partial exemption method. The standard method uses the ratio of taxable and exempt income but other methods can be agreed with HMRC.
Import / Export
Exports outside the EU and dispatches of goods to businesses in EU Countries are zero-rated. For exports you must have shipping documents. For dispatches you must have proof that the customer is in business (usually a VAT registration number) and evidence that the goods have left the UK. Imports from outside the EU attract VAT (and import Duty) at the port of entry. You must pay the VAT or have a deferment account for the goods to be cleared. Acquisitions from EU countries do not attract VAT as they enter the country but you must declare acquisition VAT on your VAT return. Import VAT and acquisition VAT can be reclaimed subject to the rules in 6.
Dealing with HM Revenue & Customs
Most people's first contact with HMRC is to register for VAT. This can be done online or by post. Full details can be found at http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/vat/start/register/how-to-register.htm. General questions and enquiries can be made by phone to 0300 200 3700. Written questions and requests for rulings can be sought by email or post. Details of how to do that are at http://search.hmrc.gov.uk/kb5/hmrc/contactus/view.page?record=dMVkEC6liWE. If you intend to rely on advice received from HMRC you must ensure you get it in writing.
Many companies will receive occasional visits from HMRC. This is not an indication that they believe you have been deliberately avoiding paying VAT but they will take a close look at your records. Cash businesses, for example restaurants, that HMRC believe are suppressing sales may be covertly observed for up to a year before or after being visited.
About the Author
This guide was written by Paul Taylor of Aardvark VAT Resource, independent providers of VAT advice to professionals and industry.