Driving to distraction. By Simon Sweetman

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Simon Sweetman thinks it is time to stop buying gas guzzlers and "think small".

It was that question about the Land Rover Freelander that set it off (and whether tinted windows made it a car rather than a van, and everybody cheerfully mixing up VAT and IT treatment definitions). With the capital allowances/benefits in kind/mileage allowances/etc for vehicles all up in the air at the moment, it might be time to take a think about it.

Some of us remember the days before scale charges when the average company driver admitted to a benefit of 5 a week, and everybody wanted a company car. A friend of mine moved to a job in London (which he was commuting to) and if he ever did a mile on business it would have been a mistake. But times change.

There is of course an underly...

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Ostentatious Displays of Wealth
I once read an excellent article in Accountancy magazine recommending a tax on ostentatious displays of wealth, because of their socially divisive effect. If only this were the start.

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Nothing to do with Morton's Fork
My suggestion had nothing to do with the second prong, and Morton's fork is therefore irrelevant.

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It's already been tried, Tom
Interesting idea, Tom, though it has already been tried, back in the 15th century, in the reign of Henry VII. That was the first prong of Morton’s fork, the second prong was that if you don’t display your wealth you are obviously saving it up and can therefore afford to pay more.

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Rural distractions
On a practical note. As I type this the rain is stair rodding by our office window. As a practice serving a rural community the issue will not be whether I can bus it to the client but whether I can pass over the flooded roads in a tax favourable vehicle - unless there's a tax break for tractor towing charges! .

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Wealth display, and business travel
Surely, the luxury rate of VAT we had for a while was as near to that as we could get!

But back to cars - the not at all inexpensive Toyota Prius is a different take on the problem. Price wise out of the range of a modest businessman who continues to run an 8 year old Mondeo. Emissions not enetering into the equation, just economics.

And a word for the professional driver. I've tried doing 40,000 miles a year in Ford Ka (for two years) and in a Jag. Guess which is better? (And safer). If I was locally based it would be a no brainer, but on the A1 late at night in the pouring rain with the lorries all around I'll choose a nice solid comfy car. Not always a gas guzzler, but heading that way. Let any politician or civil servant try to do what I do using public transport for a month and he will deserve a medal! Or I could always pack it in. Right tools for the job is what you need.

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