There may be bad news for Ope Markets, Street Traders and Carbooters. For years HMRC have upheld theprinciple that a pitch on a Street Market or Carboot sale was only a licence to occupy a piece of land so the organiser was not obliged to charge Vat. But a tax tribunal ruling has suggested stalls at a Craft Carnival were not licences so the organisers should have charged Vat. Whether this applies to all Open Markets, Carbooters and Street trading is not clear.
Jaffa Cake – a cake or a biscuit?
A final ruling is still Sub Judice but HMRC could in theory demand up to four years of back-tax. The argument rumbles on and we may see an argument similar to the ‘Jaffa Cakes’ case of 1991 when McVities suggested a Jaffa Cake (note the name) was a chocolate-covered Cake (no Vat payable) rather than a chocolate-covered Biscuit (Vat payable). The Court ruled in favour of McVities.
You might hope that EU-imposed Vat will be repealed after Brexit
Market Authority lawyers are pondering whether to challenge HMRC. You might hope that EU-imposed Vat will be repealed after Brexit, but fat chance of that. Brussels made the UK adopt Vat in 1973 when it joined the EEC but since then it has become the third largest earner for HM Treasury after Income tax and NI. Maybe someone will mount a challenge that Markets established by Royal Charter enjoy a Royal prerogative blocking subsequent taxation. That’s one for the House of Lords.
Get on your bike
The phrase ‘Get on your bike’ means different things to different people. Norman Tebbit MP used it in the 1980’s to encourage the work-shy to find employment. In 1930’s South Wales it was allegedly used to encourage lazy sons not to marry their cousin but find a wife in the next valley. Nowadays it is an encouragement to use ‘Bike Share’ schemes like the ‘Boris Bikes’ in London. You waltz up to a row of ‘docked’ bikes, present your credit card and cycle off. But problems are now emerging with the new generation of ‘dockless’ bikes which can be left anywhere, not just at another dock. Councils are impounding hundreds of them which litter the pavements.
It seems inevitable that TfL – the London Transport Authority – will soon need to regulate Bike Share providers
In Paris it’s worse. ‘Gobee.bike’ have closed their Bike Share scheme after technology-savvy Parisian kids learnt how to bypass the card system, use the bikes for street polo and then dump them in the Seine. After announcing ‘The mass destruction of our fleet has become entertainment for underage individuals, encouraged by social media’ the Company closed down. It seems inevitable that TfL – the London Transport Authority – will soon need to regulate Bike Share providers. I recently spotted a Parisian ‘Velib’ in a Market service yard. How do you smuggle a Velib onto a Eurostar? You know what ticket inspectors are like.