The Duty To Avoid Tax

For the first time ever, I walked into the Red Channel. There was nobody there, just a waist high white counter with a doorbell button. A laminated sign was sellotaped along side it which said “RING ONCE” and I pressed it.

Nothing happened for the next ten minutes so I pressed the button again. Immediately a large man in a shabby uniform burst through a door. He was overweight, unshaven and his eyes were red.

“Can’t you read?” he snarled.

“Sorry” I replied.

“What do you want?” he growled.

“I want to declare something” I said.

“Really” said the man. “And what would that be?”

“This” I said, taking a litre bottle of 25 year old Macallan from my bag and putting it onto the counter.

“Where did you get it?” he asked,

“At Duty Free in the airport” I replied.

“And is this all the alcohol you’ve got?”

“Yes, of course” I said. “I’m not an alcoholic”.

“Then you’re under the Duty Free allowance and this does not have to be declared” said the man. “You should have gone through the other channel like everybody else.”

“Ah yes”, I replied. “but I’ve been keeping track of the news while on holiday and in the last few weeks there has been a great deal of effort made, by politicians of all parties, to establish the moral case for paying tax. I want to be a good citizen and pay my share. So I insist on paying the duty on this whisky.”

“Well you can’t, there’s no form for it.” said the big man. “Just get out of here and stop wasting my time. We’ve got enough to do here without dealing with nut cases like you”

“Well if that’s you’re attitude…” I picked up my suitcase and walked out.

When I got home I carefully unpacked the thirty cartons of King Edward cigars from it without any feelings of guilt whatever. Then I picked up the phone.

“Hello, is that HMRC?  Oh good, I wanted to have a word with you about my ISAs…..”





Image Credit: Martin Burns


  1. Nice. And I know the shabby, sometimes unshaven, overweight man with red eyes and a short temper – that is me (all too often). He is dog tired and he thinks he has wasted his life – which, of course, he has. Not just a government work thing (avoid the “true believers” who actually think pestering people over their booze and cigs, or whatever, is noble), vast numbers of people in the “private sector” think the same – which is why they look the same. They thing “what is the point?” – and they understand that there is none. They are not stupid (although they may deliberately give the impression they are stupid), they have made the wrong choices in life and-or had bad luck – and they have had enough.



  2. I think it delicious that Ed intentionally and disingenuously blurred evasion and avoidance to cast his net wider, using the term “dodging”, only to find that net catching rather more slippery stinking fish than he bargained for.



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