Dear Chief Secretary to the Treasury,
I'm afraid to tell you there's no money left.
Signed, Liam Byrne

(Outgoing Labour Chief Secretary to the Treasury. May 2010)

Friday, 26 March 2010

Budget :- HMRC says 8 x 3 = 8 + (3 + 1) whilst opening mail

From 1st January 2011 the way cigarettes are taxed will be changing, tax will be charged according to the length of the cigarette, measured from the end of the filter. (No, it really isn't April 1st)

It would seem there are new rules, tucked away in the bit of the Budget called "Enforcement and Compliance" measures. HMRC have, in their wisdom, decided that smokers of longer cigarettes have been avoiding paying duty, so
any cigarette longer than 8cm (When did UK start legislating in metric?) – excluding the tip – will be treated as another cigarette and have extra duty slapped on it.

For each additional 3cm, or part thereof, it will be treated as yet another cigarette.

This means that a 12cm cigarette, for example, will be treated as three cigarettes.
How they manage to work out that three centimetres of tobacco is the same as eight centimetres is not revealed, perhaps mathematics was not HMRC's strong point.

So, not only have cigarettes already, instantly, gone up in price by 4% + 15p per pack of 20, they've changed the rules too. That lovely Mr Darling was remarkably quiet about this when he spoke to Parliament.

It's beginning to look as if he's expecting smokers to plug the government's financial black hole. Wouldn't it be nice for Parliament to decide that, as smokers are so generous, they could have accommodation at least equal to that provided for livestock?

Also tucked away in the 'Budget' small print and which amends section 106 of the Postal Services Act 2000, is legislation enabling HMRC to open mail without a warrant, and without informing the addressee - who is not required to be present.

The document, presumably a statutory instrument, is entitled “Tackling tobacco smuggling in the post”.

HMRC said :
the powers would be applied much more broadly.
Mrs R isn't in the least surprised, nor is Heather Taylor, a senior tax partner at Grant Thornton, who said:
“This seems like a very small and limited change, but it could be a very big step for increased powers HMRC. Once new powers are in the hands of HMRC they tend to be extended.”
There's a heck of a list of "Budget 2010: Budget Notes". Too many to plough through. Of course Mr Darling wouldn't have missed anything else out of his speech.

Would he?


Anonymous said...

Interesting that the supposed powers to combat tobacco smuggling are to applied more widely. Perhaps HMRC are thinking that mail is coming back into favour as a medium for, lets say, interesting communications. They have the power already to snoop on e-mail and web traffic this just extends it too mail too.

Interesting times eh?

Mrs Rigby said...

Interesting times indeed.