Sugar (and books)

It’s true that eating too much sugar is bad for you. Too much of anything is bad for you. Even water (I rarely touch the stuff myself, having kept pet fish and observed what they do in it).

Yet, having no sugar is bad for you too. Okay, you can get a lot of it as sugar in fruit (in season) and your liver can make sugar out of some other foodstuffs but you have to remember that your body works on sugar. That’s its fuel. Cut out all sugar, all carbohydrate, and your metabolism will burn protein for energy and you will go into ketosis. That is definitely not healthy.

It’s worse with salt. Too much salt is bad, yes, but a little too much is no problem. Your kidneys will dump the excess. It’s what they do. Too little salt – well, your body cannot create sodium. It’s an element. If you have too little, then hyponatremia beckons and if you persist in your salt-free diet while getting sicker, you will die.

Maybe this is a population-thinning exercise. It’ll certainly wipe out the genes of people who put healthy kids on salt, sugar and gluten free vegan diets. A global experiment in Darwinism, maybe?

Lately we have the gobby kitchen staff, in the grinning shape of Jamie Oliver, demanding all breakfast cereals reduce their sugar content. Yes, he’s self-promoting again.

It is worth pointing out every time, that this flabby-tongued gobshite has never been elected to anything, has no medical background, is neither a nutritionist nor a dietitian, and makes pronouncements to get people to notice him.

He is a cook. Since when did business boardrooms and elected MPs take orders from kitchen staff?

They do though. He has one of his tantrums and they all go ‘ooo, the Dreaded Cook is coming, we have to reformulate everything so it tastes like a troupe of weasels peed over it and then nobody will buy it’.

Stupid, isn’t it? But that’s how the world works now. Gobby bastards who have never stood for any kind of election and who have no qualifications in the subject they are spouting off about are the ones being listened to by our vacuous elected representatives.

Every political party should have ‘superficial preening party’ as at least part of their name. Every one. None of them are any use any more. There are very, very few MPs with any brains at all. Load of prancing popinjays who think they have been voted in to do what the hell they please to the people who voted for them.

This is where Cromwell came in last time the government was so out of touch. They won’t know that because they have fucked up education so badly now that history students think Henry the Eighth was the spitting image of Idi Amin and they don’t remember what happened last time we had a King Charles. It was even worse the time before and we’ll soon have Charles III. Who is already bonkers so he has a head start on the first two.

It’s all coming together very unpleasantly, I think…

We’re still in January. We are expected to eat only vegan food and touch no alcohol this month. As you would expect, I have had not one meat-free or whisky-free day this month and have no plans to do so. If they move the Stoptober nonsense into January we can just rename it Miserable Puritan Month and get it all out of the way at the start of the year.

Government by gobshite. Who’d have thought it could come to this? All we have in Parliament is a bunch of mindless expenses claimants who do what they are told by charities and kitchen staff. People who claim to be experts but who are only expert in self-aggrandisement and thuggish controlling methods.

Anyway… the next book from Leg Iron Books is going to piss off these people massively. It has lots and lots of smoking and booze in it, and it’s extremely funny. A complex plot that leads to a logical conclusion – and when you get to the part with the chugger, I reckon every reader is going to have to wipe tears of laughter from their eyes. Unless you’re a chugger, in which case you might want to be a little less aggressive in the future.

It’s by Lee Bidgood, who has appeared in the last two Underdog Anthologies and it’s a really good one. Target is release by the end of the month (my visit to Wales in January has been postponed because of a reason) and it’s certainly possible.

On book promotions, I was sent a link by an early author, Justin Sanebridge, to a promoting site that sends out tweets, farcebok posts, Google+ posts (whatever they are) and more to advertise a book. They also have a free sample that sends it out once so you can try it.

The base 30-day plan costs just $14.99 (currently £10.80) to get it sent out twice a day for 30 days. At 50 cents a day that’s pretty cheap. I will send one book a month for this promotion. If I send them all at once I’ll have books competing with other books from the same publisher (me) and I want to see if it affects sales. If it makes $15 a month it’s a good one.

But hey, if anyone wants to use the free one-day thing to give their book a shot now, go for it. if you want to use the paid service yourself, tell me you did it so I’ll be able to link it to sales.

First one out is Justin Sanebridge’s ‘The Goddess of Protruding Ears’ because he found the site so that’s only fair. I have 30 days to decide whether to do the rest in order or at random. I might not add the anthologies because they are priced to the bone so they’d have trouble getting the initial stake back. They’d be bottom of the list anyway – the authors go first.

An advertising budget of $15 a month won’t break me. If it works, if it makes more than the stake, they have heavier-duty plans I could move up to. Advertising budget is tax deductible too.

Which reminds me, I have a chunky tax bill to pay this year. I don’t want to give money to people I know will use it to make my life a misery, I’d rather give it to a trembling street corner junkie who will only damage themselves, but they’ll come for me if I don’t.

First tax bill in years. I am sure I will be claiming a lot of it back next year though.

 

 

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Aaand… relax

Tax form is completed. I still have to pay it but it’s not as bad as I expected.

There’s also that tax on account bugbear but I’ll claim that back next April unless one or more of the books goes wild in the next three months. As it stands I won’t have any tax to pay next year, but I didn’t take the option to reduce tax on account because if some magical income appeared, I’d have trouble explaining it. It’s easier just to let them have a loan of the money for three months.

It wasn’t straightforward, naturally. I had to go back and forth because I’d put money in the wrong sections and managed to accidentally delete an entire section… and had to put it back in. Then there was the last of the Secret Ninja Cleaner job at Local Shop, which I left on October 31st 2016. I still don’t have a P45 or final payslip. Fortunately the tax office already knew about it and filled that part in. I hope they got it right, I can’t check it.

The next one won’t have the cleaning job but might have some income from an editing job I’ve applied for. It’s not likely to be high paying but it’s yet another minor income stream.

In the end though, it’s done. I hadn’t realised what a weight it was until it was lifted. All the things I could have been doing instead of faffing about trying to avoid doing my tax… Next year I’ll do it in April.

But then next year I’ll have more incentive because I won’t owe them anything (miracles excepted). They’ll owe me.

I like it that way round.

 

Back to work

Well, holiday is over. The freeze isn’t – there is an on-off skating rink outside as the weather oscillates either side of freezing. Still, it’s time to get back to work.

First I have to deal with my tax return. I have put it off this year because I know I won’t get a rebate this time and will actually have to pay some, so the incentive to fill in that form was lost. My accounts are a simple in/out system as a sole trader, no complex calculations or interesting accounting methods here. Still, it takes time to put it all together.

I have a lot of tiny income streams rather than one big one. I have my own accounts for previously published books as well as accounts for Leg Iron Books. I could delete those accounts and republish everything under LI Books but I’d lose any reviews that have accumulated. That’s already happened with Samuel’s Girl and Jessica’s Trap, which was unavoidable. They were with another publisher and I moved them when the contracts ran out. That meant new listings which aren’t linked to the old listings. Can’t be helped.

I have other small incomes too, which all add up to enough to live on but now I have to track them all and add up all the bits… It takes a few days of hunting around but really, it’s not at all complicated. Just very, very tedious.

There is also the matter of updating several forms called W8-BEN which mean I don’t get tax withheld from US sales. Otherwise they hold back 30% which is something I want to avoid because I have never even visited the USA! Each account with each company needs a separate one – again, not complicated but time consuming and tedious.

Still, Leg Iron Books’ Christmas break is over. Back to work.

 

A literal tax take.

The UK government plan to do what Cyprus did and simply raid everyone’s bank account to pay its bills. Under the guise of ‘chasing tax cheats’, the taxman will be able to take as much as he wants from your bank account, any time he likes. No court order or justification required because the taxman never, ever gets it wrong.

If there is an error and your bank account is emptied by mistake, you can hire an expensive lawyer to start the lengthy process of getting it back. Oh wait, no you can’t. Your bank account is empty. Your mortgage is in default, your are being chased by energy companies for unpaid bills and the council want their pocket money too.

The killer in this scenario is – you didn’t actually owe any tax. Think that will stop them?

Don’t worry about the council going short. As soon as they get this in place for the tax office, the councils will be able to do it too. The first you will know of being fined for smoking in your own home (whether you smoke or not) will be when the money vanishes. Left your bin an inch too far from the kerb? Well, you must have because there is a debit on your account marked ‘bin fine’.

Dammit, this IS Panoptica! I had envisaged all money on implanted chips. Nobody ever knows how much they have, how much they are taxed, how much they are being fined… when the chip stops working that’s it till payday. In Panoptica that’s just a threat. The chip never stops working because there really isn’t any actual money at all. The whole place is bust and run on illusion. Step out of line and your chip is remotely disabled. Show proper contrition and it works again because the officials give you ‘a loan’. You are now in debt – but there never was any money. Nobody loaned you any, you don’t have any, but that debt will be recalled if you don’t toe the line.

The one remaining step in the real life version is to take away your knowledge of what is in your bank account. That’s it. The ‘money isn’t real’ part happened a long time ago. Contactless cards exist, implanting the chip is the next and very easy part.

This is the justification for random (it’s HMRC, everything is random) raids on bank accounts –

Britain is being robbed of around £35billion a year by cheats who fail to pay their taxes and others who find ways of avoiding them, according to HMRC.

No it isn’t. This is like a mugger complaining that he is being robbed every night because some people refuse to hand over their wallets.

The government does not need that money. They use it to pay lobby groups to tell them to do what they wanted to do anyway. They give it away to the EU, loaded into the now-useless fleet of coal trucks hitched to daily trains to Brussels. They give it to countries who don’t need it, don’t want it or who will use it to buy a new gold-plated Bentley for some minor official who will then use it to run down poor people. It benefits nobody except Cameron who can puff out his pigeon-chest and preen his feathers while he meets despots covered in expensive jewellery – and he never connects their roaring wealth with the money he gives to their poor, deprived country. Because he is an idiot. “And the animals looked from Cameron to Blair, and Blair to Cameron, but already it was impossible to tell the difference”.

All the  money they get in tax is wasted and the tax system is one of the biggest wastes of all. It is insanely complex and there is no need for any of it. A simple flat tax would do the job far better. It would be harder to find loopholes and if the system was cheaper, it would not need to steal so much tax in the first place.

If you reduce the tax rate, it becomes pointless for the rich guys to pay armies of accountants to dodge it. As it is, they can save much more tax than the cost of the accountants. If the accountants cost more than the tax the rich folk would just pay the tax. If the system was simpler and easier to understand we would not need to trouble accountants at all.

Take your total income. Subtract ten thousand, your tax-free allowance. Subtract legitimate business expenses. Divide the remaining amount by five to get your 20% tax amount. Send that amount to the tax man.

You could even train a politician to do it, given an infinite number of politicians and an infinite number of calculators. The rich would not bother trying to dodge that simple tax, whether by avoidance or evasion. It just wouldn’t be worth the effort.

The only way it would ever really work is if Cameron had the man-parts to really and truly cut the waste from the system. He never will because he’s a waster too. All those quangos and fake charities and lobby groups he pays are a big part of the reason so many people don’t want to pay tax. Bonfire of the quangos? Vote me in and I’ll give you a bonfire of the quangos all right. You will be able to see and smell it for miles. Vlad the Impaler was just too bloody soft.

If tax was paying for the military, the police, the fire service, the hospitals, fixing and building roads and bridges… fine. But it’s not. All those actually useful things are being cut. Instead we get ‘change4life’ and ‘five-a-day’ and ‘units per week’ and ‘ooo, no, you can’t burn half a gram of leaves next to that idling double-decker bus, it’s bad for the child who lives five streets away’ and the bastards think this is democratic governance and money well spent! They really do! That Miller wench was on the radio today, having finally got her coat, saying the scandal was ‘a distraction from the achievements of this government’.

What? Every government in living memory and beyond has delighted in any form of distraction from what they are ‘achieving’. She was not a distraction. Distractions focus attention elsewhere. She was focusing attention on the government and what a bunch of money-grabbing, self-serving gits they really are. We are not supposed to pay attention to the man behind the curtain.

Cameron said he was sorry to see her go and hoped she could come back when all the fuss had died down. Yes, he really said that, the Tefal-headed twat. Such is his contempt, he sees no need to hide his intention to bring back one of his favourite arrogant harridans when he thinks the drones have forgotten about her. Out of touch? More like on another planet.

I wish he was. I wish they all were. Venus is nice in the summertime, and I’m sure we’d all be happy to pay the tax for that expenses-paid trip. We’d even add in enough for a camera to film the whole thing and – hell, why not – we’ll even give them parachutes. It’ll make the camera last longer than the Venera probes did.

Oh, but the taxman will have rules while raiding your bank vault. Rules that make it all okay.

Under the proposals, which will be subject to a consultation, HMRC will be able to take all the money that a person owes in tax out of their bank account, subject to two key rules.

It cannot take the full amount unless the person would have at least £5,000 left across all bank accounts after the tax debt has been paid and the money can only be taken if HMRC has contacted the person at least three times about the unpaid tax bill.

They will stick to those rules rigidly. Haaahahaha!

Read that second part again:

It cannot take the full amount unless the person would have at least £5,000 left across all bank accounts …

Clever, eh? If it means you would be left with less than £5000, they cannot take the full amount. They can take a lesser amount, less than what they consider to be the full amount, and if that leaves you with £1 it’s still ‘within the rules’.

I already have less than £5000 total cash anywhere. Lately I only rarely go above £1000. Soon I will fill in a tax form and expect a refund.  Oh, I have loads of stuff but not much in cash. It’s safer that way. Stuff can be sold or, if the drones ever realise money is worthless, traded. Cash though, not very much. I doubt I will bother amassing much more from now until the day I die. Money is no use, it’s less real than Satan anyway.

I also earn very little and have to stay self-employed, even if I never see another microbiology job, because of the books. They make about £100 a year but as long as they are on sale I am self-employed and will have to fill out a tax form every year. Unless Hollywood takes on one of the books or I write a real corker, this will mean a tax refund every year. I like that. Tax, to me, is like storing pennies in a jar and taking them all out once a year.

So really, this new Bankrobbing Law means little to nothing to me. But then it is not designed for me.

Look again –

It cannot take the full amount unless the person would have at least £5,000 left across all bank accounts after the tax debt has been paid and the money can only be taken if HMRC has contacted the person at least three times about the unpaid tax bill.

They assume that they have the right to take the tax and if they send you three letters, they can then rip it out of your account. Even if you rebut the letters. Even if you declare their demands invalid. They don’t need to debate about it any more. They send three letters, you respond with three ‘no’ letters, they raid your savings.

No, this is not aimed at me. This is aimed at Captain Ranty and the Freemen on the Land.

A movement that has been growing, that has been right all along and that is really starting to worry the tax thieves.

The taxman is not going after Stirbacks or Goggle or any of the others it has always given a free pass. This law is to clear up the problem of the Free. No more debate, no more discussion, no more admissions of fraudulent demand for money not really owed.

No, they send three letters and whether you respond or not, they rip it out of your hoard.

If you are following the Freeman ways, turn your money into gold bars and build it into the floor of your kitchen. Any fake cash you have in banks will soon be raided.

Oh, and if you sneer at Freemen and the wealthy, keep in mind that the tax office has a legend on the wall. ‘Our name is Legion of Idiots, because our errors are many.’

Once this gets under way, you will see random sinkholes under bank accounts all over the place. Could be yours. Could be mine.

Mine won’t sink very far.

No wonder the taxman is short of cash.

Leaving aside the unbearable irony of using Google to track down tax-dodgers

It can’t work. My house is on Google Streetview – as it was about ten years ago. Looking at the satellite you can see the pond I filled in a few years back. There is, fortunately, no sign of any greenhouse or large potted plants.

Google maps are not real-time. One commenter on the article pointed out that Google shows the car they sold seven years ago in front of the house they moved out of three years ago. The image the taxman will see on their screen might well be the image of your house years before you moved into it!

If the previous resident had a Ferrari, they’ll be round to see you. It’s no good claiming you never had a Ferrari and have only ever owned a rusty Lambretta – the Computer Says You Have It, so you must be hiding it somewhere.

It’s quite a computer too.

… spent £50million on the supercomputer, which is called Connect

After spending that much on their spy-machine, who imagines they will ever admit that all it’s showing them is a load of rubbish?

A lot of money is going in to cracking down on window cleaners and Avon ladies…

Google Earth is the latest weapon in HMRC’s battle to close a £35billion gap between what it believes individuals and companies owe and the tax that is actually collected.

I’ll bet this comes from some deal whereby they let Google off the tax-nagging as long as Google helps to smash that home-made jam ring they’ve been after for years.

It says tax evasion and the hidden economy – customers not paying VAT on home repairs, for example – cost the UK taxpayer £9billion a year. HMRC has spent nearly £1billion over the past three years trying to enforce the rules.

If the rules were simpler they’d be cheaper to enforce. If the tax burden wasn’t so complex and onerous, nobody would boither avoiding it. If Government did not so blatantly waste so much of that money, far fewer people would object to paying. None of those things have entered the taxman’s head. Nothing enters a politician’s head. Nothing at all. Something should. I vote it should be an axe.

Over the past 18 months, it has set up dozens of taskforces to probe the tax receipts and business practices of industries as diverse as restaurants, private cab firms, hairdressers, outdoor markets, car dealerships and even Avon Ladies.

Avon ladies. Seriously. There is no way a task force to catch Avon ladies can possibly be cost effective. It’s all just spite, isn’t it? All just to make sure everyone conforms and nobody tries to live any kind of independent life.

Small businesses are killed by the taxman now. That ‘tax on account’ means you pay double tax at the end of your first year of trading. If you can survive that then it’s not so bad afterwards but that first year is a killer. Unless you were like me and had a big wad of redundancy money to start with (which the bastards took 40% of) then your business will last one year. Then you are bankrupt. The tax office even gleefully reports that ‘most small businesses cease trading after only a year’. They know why. They don’t tell you when you’re setting up, but they know why.

They reckon they are short by 35 billion quid. From hairdressers and restaurants and cab firms and dodgy car dealers and window cleaners… 35 billion? Really? That’s a lot of hair on the floor and some seriously shiny windows out there somewhere.

My wages go through PAYE because I work for a cleaning company. The self-employed bit, including book sales, makes very little so there’d be no sense in trying to dodge tax on that. It doesn’t make enough to pay any tax!

As it is, I have half my tax allowance on the cleaning job and half on self-employment so I received a chunk of a rebate last April, and might get another (smaller) one next April. Smaller, because last year I was only employed for six months. I’ll fill in the form early this year again since there is a remote possibility I will owe some – that gives me nine months to find it.

If you look at my house on Google it looks like the house of someone on more than 30k a year – because I was when I bought it and while I paid off most of the mortgage. The house is now worth around 200K judging by what nearby ones have sold for, I owe only about 30K on the mortgage because I hit it hard while I had money. Will they realise this? Will they buggery.

I fully expect a visit. I have a house that is clearly way beyond what a part-time minimum-wage cleaner/penniless author/no-use-to-anyone microbiologist can possibly afford. Linking the past with the present is beyond the grasp of the average tax inspector. They are only concerned with what they can screw out of you now and in the future – which they have, for small businesses, already taxed.

What do they do with these taxes?

They spend fifty million quid on a computer to analyse ten-year-old images.

We are paying to keep idiots alive, you realise?

I never could get the hang of Thursdays.

This particular Thursday is April 4th, the day before the end of the tax year. I am due for a refund so I’m rooting out all those receipts much earlier than usual. Income and expenditure go into the spreadsheets as soon as they happen (otherwise I’ll forget) but the filing of associated paperwork is much less efficient.

I’m also working a seven day week and until 9 pm some days. Well, there’s overtime on offer, might as well take it. Soon there is likely to be a replacement for the missing staff member and overtime will be in short supply. The extra I’m doing now won’t show up in pay until the end of April so it’s not in this tax form.

Dick Puddlecote has the big news of the day. The link between the smoking ban and all the others using that same template has now started to go mainstream. Even the politicians might notice. Then again, they haven’t yet noticed that global warming isn’t happening so the glacial flow of their thought processes might take quite some time to assimilate the information. It depends how many of them are making money from these bans.

Model construction is still moving, but slowly due to after-work knackeredness. I found a useful thing in Poundland. It’s a USB plug fitted to a short gooseneck with a strip of five white LEDs on the end. As I have a mousepad that is also a four-way USB outlet thing, I now have a very close-up bright light for small work. Therefore I have spent a little time using a single strand of fine thread dipped in white paint to paint the gearchange lines on the end of a 1/76th gear stick. Not perfect, but since it’s hard to see inside the cab anyway and attention will be distracted by the lit cigarette, I think it’ll do. It’s a bit wonky but it’s enough to surprise anyone who notices.

gearstick

Scuff marks in the paint are normal at this stage. The seat base will need to be scraped to glue Man with a Van in place, and touch-up is normal before final assembly. It looks like it has a long way to go but it doesn’t really. The tiniest parts are all sorted and fitted, just a few more panels and now I have the DIY decal sheet, the outside finish is easy. The light will run on a 3V button cell in the back of the van, and the electronics involved are absolutely trivial.

Next, the side panel transfers… but first, sleep.

 

The Taxman Cometh.

It seems the money experts have noticed that the Coagulation’s new anti-tax-avoidance laws will not stop tax avoidance because tax avoidance is not illegal. They’ll just look harder at those avoiders to see if they are in fact evading tax, which is illegal.

If they hadn’t made the tax system so impenetrably complex there would be no need for all these new laws to tackle problems that don’t even need to exist. It would also be much cheaper to administer and it would cost us less in tax.

As it is, the more complex the system (tax, benefits, you name it), the easier it is for those who wish to scam the system to hide in the maze of rules. Make it simple and scammers are out in the open and easily spotted.

They’ll never simplify tax. That would put all the enforcers and inspectors out of work. A truly simple tax system could be run by a staff of about ten people in one office. The same is true of benefits. The savings would mean we would all pay much less tax, even though there’d be several thousand civil servants newly planted on the benefits list.

Well, the end of the tax year approaches once more and I’m looking forward to it. I will have that form filled out and submitted as soon as I have every bit of relevant paperwork in my grimy little hands.

What’s this, you might ask, is the old grumpy sod becoming a compliant drone?

Nope. I am on tax code 0T (second table down) in the current job and there’s a good reason for that. I started the job in October and the taxman won’t know how little I earned as self-employed in the April-September period so he’s assumed I earned enough to use up my tax allowance. Therefore I am currently paying the full whack on every payday even though I earned less in the first half of the tax year than a blind, deaf and plastered school-crossing attendant.

Therefore I am due for a refund. Not a huge one, but six months with no tax allowance makes it a worthwhile one.

There are book sales income (pah, whisky-money levels) and some small incomes from self employment but nowhere near the tax allowance – if it even gets there. I don’t earn much in the little janitor job. The tax refund might well be… all of it.

It won’t be a lot of money but the smug feeling of saying to the taxman ‘Give it back. Every penny,’ is worth a hell of a lot of cold nights and eating cheap food and re-rolling dog-ends and putting up with a lack of posh malt whiskies.

As for cheap food, I picked up several cans of beans and of interesting soups (bacon and lentil soup? carrot and coriander? I’ll try it) for ten pence a can today. They aren’t out of date. The cans are dented. People want perfect things and dented cans aren’t perfect.

Long may that attitude prevail. I open the can, eat the contents and throw the can away. I really could not care less what the can looks like because it’s the contents I’m buying, not the packaging. Are there people who put their perfect cans on display? I keep my canned food in a cupboard, behind a door, in case cheeeldren see them and are motivated to eat them. I wouldn’t want to be responsible for corrupting a non-eater, you know.

As long as people refuse to buy dented cans, bottles with stained labels, bread that is on its last day but is still perfectly okay and carrots that look like porn stars with their trousers off, I’ll continue to eat cheaply. Which means I don’t need to earn much money, which means I don’t need to pay much – if any – tax.

If the drones ever wake up and realise that the contents of a dented can are the same as they were before the can was dented, I’ll have to find a better paid job.

So far, there seems little danger of that. They think that denting the can changes the contents (I am not kidding here) because it was on the telly.

I will not argue with them, if it is on the telly then it must be true and I will die from eating soup from a dented can.

Doesn’t matter. I already died from cigarettes, alcohol, butter and salt thirty years ago.