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At £3.5m, they’re not just teacakes…

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Hold up! Before you read on, please read this...

This post was published more than 11 years ago

I keep old posts on the site because I often enjoy reading old content on other people's sites. It can be interesting to see how views have changed over time: for example, how my strident teenage views have, to put it mildly, mellowed.

I'm not a believer in brushing the past under the carpet. I've written some offensive rubbish on here in the past: deleting it and pretending it never happened doesn't change that. I hope that stumbling across something that's 11 years old won't offend anyone anew, because I hope that people can understand that what I thought and felt and wrote about then is probably very different to what I think and feel and wrote about now. It's a relic of an (albeit recent) bygone era.

So, given the age of this post, please bear in mind:

  • My views may well have changed in the last 11 years. I have written some very silly things over the years, many of which I find utterly cringeworthy today.
  • This post might use words or language in ways which I would now consider highly inappropriate, offensive, embarrassing, or all three.
  • Factual information might be outdated.
  • Links might be broken, and embedded material might not appear properly.

Okay. Consider yourself duly warned. Read on...

teacakes.JPGYep, £3,500,000 of taxpayers money – your money – is about to be presented to Marks & Spencers for some teacakes.

You may have thought that teacake expenditure would have decreased now John Prescott is no longer in Government, but there really is a very good reason for the increase.

In 1973, M&S decided to start selling teacakes, and the VAT man decided that they were biscuits, and so insisted on collecting VAT on them. The clue was in the name, really. They’re teacakes, not teabiscuits.

Then, a little over twenty years later, another VAT man realised that the teacakes were, in fact, cakes, and that VAT shouldn’t be collected on them. But between 1973 and 1994, £3.5 million pounds of VAT had been wrongly paid to the Government.

In its infinite wisdom, the government decided that this £3.5m shouldn’t be given back. They reasoned that people had paid for their teacakes, not to give a donation to M&S, and so to give the money back to M&S would be deeply unfair.

So they gave M&S a cursory 10%, and kept the rest for themselves.

Now, a further thirteen years later, the European Court has decided that this was a little unfair, and insisted that the government give the wrongly collected taxes back – costing us all £3.5m.

But then again, they weren’t just teacakes – they were M&S teackes.

This 1,236th post was filed under: News and Comment, Politics.

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Comments and responses

Comment from Jonathan Rothwell


by Jonathan Rothwell

Comment posted at 11:15 on 15th December 2007.

It wasn’t just a government cock-up – it was a Conservative government cock-up.


Comment from sjhoward (author of the post)


by sjhoward

Comment posted at 21:38 on 16th December 2007.

So true…


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