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Springfords LLP blog

Some news, views and comments about everything and anything, relevant and irreverent.

Paying pennies for tax bills

15 February 2017

Have you ever felt hard done by, when your bus fare demands the correct change, and you’ve only a fiver in your pocket? Have you ever had the mischievous thought of paying in pennies, just to get even with life? One man, in a taxing situation, did just that.

There’s an old saying that in business, you should not get mad, you should just get even. For most of us, that amounts to taking all those unsolicited mailings, and shuffling them up, then posting them back in the reply-paid envelopes so conveniently supplied by the shady companies that pushed them though our letter boxes in the first place.

Or you could take a tip from some tourists in Spain who decided to get even with an irritatingly rude and pushy salesman on a sunny Spanish island. Fed up with being badgered on the beach, a whole coach party filled up his diary for a week to become fractional owners of his dubious apartment complex - with the first appointment for the day after the group flew home.

Possibly you’ll get even by going all ‘Liam Neeson’ on the hapless call centre drone, for whom you staggered out of that nice relaxing bath, just to hear their mispronounced and fatuous greeting to the man or the lady of the house. “I don’t know who you are or what you want,” you wish you’d said, “But understand this. I will hunt you down, and I will not stop until I find you, and when I do…” Well, we’ve all seen the films.

Of course, instead, most of us just think: “You know what, if I hang up now, and run a bit more hot water into the tub, that raspberry-scented foam bath will be just as nice as it was five minutes ago.”

It’s just that Nick Stafford isn’t like most of us. He’s more like Liam Neeson.

Nick had what might politely be called ‘a run in’ with the Department of Motor Vehicles - that’s the American equivalent of the DVLA, and an organisation that has every bit as much of a sense of humour as their South Wales counterparts: none whatsoever.

Mr Stafford queried a vehicle tax bill. Now there’s nothing wrong with that, except that if Mr Stafford were in the UK, we would have recommended he called us at Springfords first, and we’d have given him an opinion that might have saved a lot of bother for everyone. However, although we have branches in Falkirk, West Lothian and Edinburgh, we’ve not reached out to North America just yet - so Mr Stafford was on his own on this one.

At stake was $3000, levied in connection with Mr Stafford’s business vehicles. We’re not sure of the precise details, but Mr Stafford was sure of his position, and really thought he shouldn’t be paying this sum to the joyless collectors of whatever the Americans have in place of a road fund licence.

Mr Stafford could have shouted the odds down the phone, during any of the protracted calls between him, his staff, and the intransigent bureaucrats. Even after he’d gone to court to plead his case, and been turned down, he refrained from that most American of responses - he didn’t go postal and blow them all away. No, he took the judgement on the chin, and did the right thing. He paid up. All $3000. In Dimes. Ten cent pieces of copper alloy.

What does $3000 look like in small change? Well, it’s a lot of heavy metal for starters. Mr Stafford and his staff spent four hours splitting the wrappers that contained the brand new coins (wearing gloves least they turned green or got blisters). He then employed five beefy men to wheel a barrow load each into the offices of the DMV, where he exercised his right to pay any debt with the coins of the realm.

Oh, and Mr Stafford asked for a receipt, which took seven hours to come, because that’s how long it takes to count 300,000 dimes, whether you wear gloves or not. We definitely think he got even.


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springfords blog

Some news, views and comments about everything and anything, relevant and irreverent.

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