Can we save the VAT?
I read this earlier on someone's Facebook post and thought I just had to share it, it's so true and explains lots as to why we can't save you the VAT by paying cash.
Thank you for the opportunity to quote for your forthcoming project. I note that you have asked if we could “lose the VAT” in return for payment in cash.
This is not an uncommon request, and tradespeople hear it all the time. I wonder sometimes if members of the public really understand what it is that they are asking of us.
Under UK law, the maximum penalty for VAT fraud is seven years in prison or an unlimited fine. Even a relatively minor case, dealt with by the local magistrates court, can attract a 6 month sentence or a £20,000 fine. Either of those penalties would almost certainly close down my business, cause me to lose my house, and possibly my family as well.
Even ignoring the moral issues, there is no conceivable circumstance where I would take such risks in order to benefit a client by a relatively small amount. Should you find someone willing to take such risks, I believe that you would have to worry about the quality of their judgement and decision making – particularly if they are working on the gas or electricity in the home where your family sleep!
There is one other issue to address. My kids go to school, my wife works as a nurse, my brother is a firefighter and my old mum has just retired to enjoy a well-earned pension. Every time a tax is dodged, my kids have fewer text books, my wife works on an even more understaffed unit, my brother enters a burning building without the best kit, or my mum has to tighten her belt buckle another notch.
I understand that money is tight, and we all struggle to do the best for our families. But there have to be limits, and I hope that this note has made it clear where my lines are drawn.
I really hope that, upon reflection, you would rather have a professional firm deliver a fantastic standard of workmanship, using qualified tradesman and good quality materials from reliable vendors. Your lovely home deserves nothing less. No one likes paying tax, but it is part of life.
I look forward to hearing from you regarding the payment of a deposit and a start date.