Pembroke: Crime doesn't pay

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The Independent Online
DID YOU know that you've been able to include money made from nice little earners like bribes and terrorism in your tax returns all these years? Nor did we until we got an extraordinary missive from the Inland Revenue called 'Tax deductions for criminal payments'.

The document is directed at people who crunch their way through tax returns, working out which bits of their income qualify for tax relief. 'The tax system,' it explains, 'lays down rules for the expenditure which can qualify for tax relief against the different types of income or profits.

'At present, the legality of the expenditure need not in strictness be a material factor (our italics). If expenditure meets the other tests laid down, such as being incurred wholly and exclusively for the purposes of a trade, in principle it can qualify for relief.'

Naturally, there is a catch. The Revenue is only now revealing all because the loophole is being closed. The spoilsport Chief Secretary to the Treasury has tabled a new clause to the Finance Bill which will disallow, when calculating income for tax purposes, 'payments which themselves constitute the commission of a criminal offence by the payer'. This will 'make it plain that those guilty of criminal offences should not be indirectly subsidised through the tax system,' the Revenue says primly.

The provision applies to payments made on or after 11 June. So if you wanted to slip one last 'gift' through your tax returns, you're too late.

ANYONE WHO missed the deep fat fryer at the pre-sale viewing of contents of Rosehaugh's offices should not despair because there's an auction of BCCI's accoutrements on 16 June. One eye-catching item is a paper shredder. Bidders must bear in mind that it has probably had an awful lot of use, and no careful owners.

McDONALD'S first annual review ('Each year we buy pounds 15m of pickle, cheese and tomato slices. . .') has a peculiar front cover photograph. You can tell that it's a male customer but he's completely blurred so you can't see him holding a Big Mac, say, or a Large Fries. Instead, the man appears to be metamorphosing into one of those large fluffy brushes peculiar to car washes. What's more he's definitely pictured leaving the branch at Liverpool Street Station. You might want to mind your step.