On 25 June the Telegraph published a guide to help readers avoid paying VAT on their groceries. The article referred to VAT as a tax ‘full of anomalies and complications’, a description that rings particularly true in relation to the zero-rating of food and drink in the UK.
‘Contrariwise, if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn’t, it ain’t. That’s logic.’ (Lewis Carroll, ‘Through the Looking Glass’)
On 22 June, George Osborne introduced his Emergency Budget. With all the hype about belt-tightening, one wondered what draconian measures were in store.
I’ve finally given in and bought myself an iPod. It’s unlike me to resist a gadget this long but I must have known how it would go. Now I am loading my entire music collection on to it. ‘Feed me, Seymour, feed me’ says iTunes each time I walk past my laptop.
I have just discovered two interesting things.
Firstly, ‘Raise Your Glass: Wine Investment and the Financial Crisis’, a study by Swiss economists Philippe Masset and Jean-Philippe Weisskopf, has shown that over the 13 years between January 1996 and January 2009 an index of first-growth Bordeaux wines outperformed the Russell 3000 Index of US shares.
I recently attended a two-day international conference in honour of Dr John Avery Jones. The eminent Dr Avery Jones is a tax luminary who in April of this year reached the statutory retirement age for a judge of the First-tier Tribunal (Tax and Chancery Chamber).
‘Yes, I could have been a judge but I never had the Latin, never had the Latin for the judging, I just never had sufficient of it to get through the rigorous judging exams. They’re noted for their rigour. People come out saying, ‘My God, what a rigorous exam’- and so I became a miner instead. A coal miner. I managed to get through the mining exams – they’re not rigorous, they only ask one question, they say, ‘Who are you’, and I got 75 per cent on that.’ (Peter Cook in ‘Beyond the Fringe’)
One of my decisions as a Judge of the Upper Tribunal has made its way into the official law reports and, as a result, I feel very grown up. The case was London Borough of Hillingdon v MJ and Another  AACR 4 and, if you’re interested, you can read it here.