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Do prostitutes charge VAT?

Back in 2002 a High Court judge ruled that the VATman is perfectly entitled to pursue prostitutes. Mr Justice Jacob decided that members of the world's oldest profession should not be allowed to exploit a loophole because of their illegal activities and avoid paying VAT.

The case followed an earlier VAT tribunal ruling that an escort agency was unlawful and therefore could not be taxed.

The tribunal said the business "consists wholly, or at least very substantially, of the procurement of women for the purposes of their becoming common prostitutes".

When the tribunal found that the agency was "straightforwardly criminal", it meant that Customs and Excise could not claim VAT.

The owners had always claimed their business was lawful but said their turnover was below the threshold for VAT. But the judge overturned the ruling. He said: "I conclude that this case is not within the very narrow rules which allow moral scruple by a paradox to reward criminality by exempting it from taxation."

Under EU harmonisation of taxation, VAT is payable on a wide range of services without any difference being drawn over whether it is legal or illegal. Only drug dealing and counterfeit money apparently escape being taxed.

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Are you a prostitute or are you an auditor?

1. You work very odd hours.

2. You are paid a lot of money to keep your client happy.

3. You are paid well but your pimp gets most of the money.

4. You spend a majority of your time in a hotel room.

5. You charge by the hour but your time can be extended.

6. You are not proud of what you do.

7. Creating fantasies for your clients is rewarded.

8. It's difficult to have a family.

9. You have no job satisfaction.

10. If a client beats you up, the pimp just sends you to another client.

11. You are embarrassed to tell people what you do for a living.

12. People ask you, "What do you do?" and you can't explain it.

13. Your client pays for your hotel room plus your hourly rate.

14. Your client always wants to know how much you charge and what they get for the money.

15. Your pimp drives nice cars like Mercedes or Jaguars.

16. Your pimp encourages drinking and you become addicted to drugs to ease the pain of it all.

17. You know the pimp is charging more than you are worth but if the client…

Ken Dodd and the Inland Revenue

The comedian Ken Dodd, was prosecuted for tax evasion in 1989 as has been mentioned on this blog before, here and here. I'd love to find a clip of him talking about it in his act. For now though here are a couple of references to comments he makes about the experience.

He is known to introduce himself as a “failed accountant”. That, he explains, is simply to establish a rapport with the audience. “People today are all stressed out about home economics, and accountants are the current bogeymen. [Since when?]

Dodd is the butt of a lot of his material and repeated references are made to his love of money, his dislike of what he insists on calling the Inland Revenue and his past run-in with them. “They sent me a self-assessment form the other day. To me! I invented self-assessment.”

During the trial it was revealed that Dodd had very little money in his bank account. He did however have £336,000 in cash stashed in suitcases in his attic. When asked by the judge, "What does a…