Money matters IV

Here in the UK, if you buy something, it may be subject to a fixed, country-wide sales tax called Value Added Tax (VAT). It’s 20%. Some items don’t have a tax and are exempt or zero rated, but for most things it’s 20%.

We have been to North America and we know the procedure. You go into a shop, find what you want at $50, take it to the sales desk and blow me, they add another 8.26% to the price and it’s more than you thought. But you knew they were going to do that, and you had to stand there looking embarrassed waiting to find out what you’re actually going to pay. You’d need a calculator to work it out, as does the assistant, and it’s never a nice surprise.

And in the next state it’s 11.26%.

So in London you go to Selfridges and find a nice tie for £50, and VAT is 20%, so you dig out your calculator to find what you’re going to pay, or just leave it to the staff. Right?


Here in the UK, and in most of the civilised world, the price on the item is the price you pay. No calculations required, no uncertainty, it’s the price. Your till receipt may show a tax breakdown, but who cares.

It is s simple and easy, and we don’t get why so many people find it hard or complain (Americans, we are thinking of you. It doesn’t matter how much the tax was and how much the base cost of the thing is, the cost of it is what you pay. It’s not complicated. Why would you want it complicated?).

Whether there’s a price ticket, even in a sale, or a barcode you can scan, or a label on the shelf, that’s the price. End.

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