There’s a movement in supermarkets where staff will challenge you to produce ID to prove that you are over 18 if they believe you to look under 25 when buying an age restricted item. To my chagrin I have never been asked to do so. The perils of looking old. This is especially annoying as one shop I regularly go in and occasionally buy alcohol in demands pensioners produce ID. I look older than octogenarians with walking sticks.
But mad ideas occur to me. The Liberal Democrats recently floated the utterly impractical idea of means testing bus passes for pensioners. The cost of doing so will no doubt massively outweigh the potential cost benefits. And The recent political consensus in this country is to open things that were formally the responsibility of the public sector to private industry.
VAT is a tax paid on the value of goods at the point of purchase. It is generally levied on items deemed non essential. One of the things about it is that it is paid on transactions within the European Union and, if memory serves, transactions with businesses or individuals from outside the EU are exempt. Which brings me to my mad idea: if you’re not an EU citizen and not legally resident within the EU then you shouldn’t be paying VAT. And supermarkets, who sell many items that have VAT on them, already have staff who check ID on restricted items.
So why don’t we challenge people to prove their residential status when they’re paying VAT? If they’re legally entitled to be in the EU then they can pay VAT on their petfood, fruit smoothie or clothing (you know, those frivolous non essential items) and if they’re not from the EU they can show their holiday itinerary, visa or be deported. You know, without paying VAT.
I just privatised vetting and immigration. At no cost. You’re welcome.