Cash-in-hand: morally wrong, or no moral issue? Your comments in Labs
by Harris MacLeod in Politics Lab
Tue July 31, 2:26 p.m. BST
Is paying tradespeople ‘cash-in-hand’ morally wrong?
This was the very question Treasury Minister David Gauke raised when he recently attempted to expand the debate around tax avoidance, by looking at cash-in-hand as another side of the 'aggressive' tax avoidance coin.
Mr Gauke, in an interview with the Daily Telegraph, was expressing growing concern in Whitehall about the cash-in-hand economy, which the Treasury estimates costs the UK anywhere from £2 billion to £8 a year in lost tax revenues.
While the minister received some criticism for his comments, on the charge that he was being “unnecessarily moralistic” and should instead focus on large-scale tax avoiders, it gave us a sure talking point in PoliticsLab.
Do you agree or disagree with Mr Gauke’s view, that paying a tradesperson cash-in-hand is 'morally wrong', if done to help them avoid paying tax?
And most of you taking part in the discussion disagreed that paying tradespeople cash-in-hand is morally wrong.
- Many participants said that the government should focus on clamping down on big tax avoiders, like corporations, wealthy celebrities, and expenses-fiddling MPs, instead of excoriating ordinary people trying to keep their household expenses down.
- Others said that any perceived ‘moral dilemma’ around cash-in-hand payments, and the potential for avoiding paying tax, did not lie with them as consumers but with the tradesperson, who holds the responsibility for declaring any in-cash income they receive.
A smaller proportion of participants said they agreed with Gauke that paying cash-in-hand to avoid taxes is morally wrong.
- Those who agreed with Mr Gauke said that paying tradespeople cash-in-hand, to avoid paying tax, is morally wrong because it means the tax burden falls disproportionately on those who do.
- Others argued it was important for everyone to contribute to public services by paying taxes, and said you felt consumers and tradespeople who trade cash-in-hand are skirting their responsibilities to society.
- Participants in both groups pointed out that often paying in cash is the only option, as tradespeople don’t usually carry card machines, while many consumers don’t have cheque books, and therefore the responsibility to declare income falls to the tradesperson in the end.
Click on the headings below to read the range of comments made in Labs on the topic.
Do you think paying a tradesperson cash-in-hand, in order to avoid paying taxes, is morally wrong?
In a wider sense, do you think progress is being made on clamping down on tax avoidance?