The reputation of used car dealers took a terrible knock the other when it was revealed that a Radio One DJ pretended to be an Arthur Daley-like character. He didn’t even pretend to be a very good one. The presenter of the BBC breakfast show in 2012 claimed to have run up £1million of losses by selling only £3,731 worth of used cars. That really is spectacular incompetence isn’t it?
Surely DJs should stick to what they know best. I could sell cars all day long and make a rather more modest loss. After all, playing records and talking isn’t something that I could do. Except that, actually, it is.
He wasn’t alone of course, apparently 450 celebrities and fund managers decided to join the complicated “Working Wheels” tax avoidance scheme, and will now be chased for the money that they owe by HM Revenue and Customs.
This all goes to show you that the world of tax is needlessly complicated, bizarre and makes used car dealers seem as though they don’t care about profits, when that is absolutely everything. So let's flat tax everything. Let's just make it 10 per cent tops for each taxable item.
Income tax, car tax, VAT and all that. People won’t bother to dodge a much lower tax. Tax rules could be reduced to one simple sentence. All those accountants will then have to get proper jobs.
The Vehicle Excise Duty bands are the most confusing of all; it's the most stupid and ridiculous system ever devised. Economical cars will sell and always have. Incentives are not needed. Governments constantly meddle and add layers of complication that lead to the sort of abuse where a disc jockey pretends to flog cars not very well.
Two thoughts then. Firstly axe the current system, then simplify.
Secondly, what cars would you buy for £3,731? Without a hint of sarcasm I just spotted a 2006 Nissan Micra 1.6 Essenza convertible for £3500. That’ll be £3995 by May easy and the seller just took a cash offer of £3200.