Monday, July 12, 2010

No receipts please, we're Newfoundlanders.


I found another handyman.

Thing is, out here at the edge of the Atlantic, no handyman ever ever works “above the table”. All is “under.” Apart from the obvious implications on the economy and taxes, there is the non-return of phone calls when things go wrong with the work they've done. “No, I never did work for her, can she prove it?”

In the business I'm in I positively hate this black economy. It is unfair to the rest of us tax paying citizens and apart from anything else it is criminal behaviour.

So I participate. Reluctantly. I have absolutely no choice or my house would fall down around my ears.

I can't even write about it, much as I would like to, apart from here on the blog. I would be run out of Dodge quicker than you could blink. No one writes about it here. You could never get your toilet fixed or your wires uncrossed or your driveway paved. Blackballed you'd be by the Contractors Non-union. You'd have to pack up and leave the province.

So there's a bemused tolerance of it all. Even from the politicians. It is taboo to discuss yer man or yer woman on unemployment insurance (or welfare) making themselves a pack-load of cash money on the side, keeping it well away from banks and spending it under the counter somewhere else. Untraceable. Sort of. There are ways. I should know. Having done some forensic accounting in my time. Not that I ever talk about that particular skill-set here.

So here's this new fellow out back. Fixing the garage door that only worked properly once since it was installed two years ago. Fellow who installed it didn't return my calls or said he'd be here 'next week' or he was 'busy at the fish now'.

I gave this new fellow a long list of poorly performed past handiwork to fix.

And you know how I'll be paying him.

30 comments:

  1. the Ontario government is attempting to crack down on the under the table stuff while at the same time turning a blind eye to Indian cigarette smuggling.

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  2. At the same time that I pay taxes on the money I earn "legitimately," I realize that if wasn't for my under the table extra income I would be in even deeper financial trouble. It's a catch-22.

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  3. First time at your blog (following the trail from JHK's). Words and photos are well done, but for those of us with slimband could you set it up so only the past two or three posts show on the home page?

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  4. I have a handyman who does not work under the table. The reason? It's because he has a $2000 a month mortgage that shows up on his tax return, and he needs to show enough income to pay it. Otherwise he might get audited. My previous handyman, on the other hand, is completely unknown to the government. His truck isn't even registered. He never drives it off the island.

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  5. In the end, it’s the taxpayers who are getting ripped off because these guys are often making twice or three times as much as they get from their monthly UI, but the cheques keep coming in because “they have no other income”. Revenue Canada’s response? We can’t do anything unless someone reports them. We know how Revenue Canada handles things from there. But of course, it’s a “cultural thing” and you’ve nailed it on the head.

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  6. My big problem is the 'No Show' workmen. It is so frustrating arranging a time and waiting for them to turn up only to have nobody arrive! Grrr!

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  7. GFB:
    It's a fine line, isn't it. Part of it is the starvation rate of EI, and the fact the money does wend it's way back to the mainstream tax hole with HST, etc.
    The fact it is so acceptable here is what blows my mind.
    XO
    WWW

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  8. Pauline:
    Because of what I do I don't hide any of my income but I can sure see the advantages and I don't judge the situation due to the long history of government 'ripoffs' here.
    It seems like there is no other way of doing business here.
    XO
    WWW

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  9. Astro:
    Welcome!
    If I knew how to do that I could oblige but my blogtech is abysmal.
    XO
    WWW

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  10. 20CW:
    Here in the past, very few had mortgages as the house prices were so low.
    Now it is a different story as RE values are through the roof.
    It will all catch up some day!
    XO
    WWW

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  11. VP:
    Totally systemic here and we are all part of it whether we like it or not.
    XO
    WWW

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  12. GM:
    That would happen to me in Toronto all the time. The whole day trapped and waiting.
    Then I found the perfect above the table handyman there. What a treasure!
    Here they mostly show up, my new guy seems very very competent.
    XO
    WWW

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  13. I'm in the wrong, I know, but I reckon if you can pull a fast one on the government - do it! They pull more than enough fast ones on us.....any government, anywhere.
    I've never been in the position to pull any fast ones, having actually worked for the government for much of my working life - but more power to those who can do it. ;-)

    Power to the people!!! ;-)

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  14. It goes on everywhere, and impossible to stop for the reasons you give. Tradespeople here are very keen on cash or personal cheques that will never be declared to the tax office. They do give receipts though and they do come back if the work wasn't done properly.

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  15. T:
    I know. In sentiment I'm with you, government spending is appalling and never in the direction of the downtrodden, just helping their corpo-pals to more of our tax money.
    But still.....;^)
    XO
    WWW

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  16. Nick:
    Oh cheques are easy to trace, personal or otherwise.
    Can you declare the repairs and maintenance expense on YOUR taxes is my question. I can't when it's under the table like this.
    XO
    WWW

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  17. I didn't realised that this happened in Canada also! I thought it was just a greek thing.

    Horrifyingly comforting to know that it also happens in the civilised world.

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  18. And I thought it was just the good old US of A.

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  19. as I will be moving to Canada in a few months how about a post on the best things about Canada :-) I know there are many. I cannot wait to get there.

    In the meantime I am not looking forward to this kind of carry on.

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  20. PC:
    It's bad in Ireland too, the country of my birth, but I found it very much above ground in Ontario, all work (and I had an incredible amount done over the years) was above board.
    A very different story here.
    XO
    WWW

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  21. Marcia:
    I do believe poverty (or the fear of it) drives this kind of economy. I know greed followed by ignorance is in the mix too but I truly believe it is the fear of poverty and there has been an awful lot here (and in the Ireland of the past).
    XO
    WWW

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  22. Oh gosh Conor, I'd better write of the wonders of Canada and soon...we need yer good self here, will you be in Newfoundland?
    XO
    WWW

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  23. here's hoping he at least does a good job....

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  24. Well it's reassuring to know that all in Newfoundland is not quite perfect! ;-)

    That is intensely annoying though, and as you say unfair. Are there no professional trade bodies at all with proud and professional members?

    We have a mix of those who play it straight and those who don't in UK, but the reputable ones are generally signed up with some trade body or another. Many are even getting internet reviews now in the style of e-bay where they have to compete for good customer feedback, and that includes after-sales service!

    But black economy or no, I can't believe that repeat business from regular paying customers does not seem to be important to them. How do they survive if they are constantly waiting for that phonecall out the blue from a friend of a friend of a friend, who they're not going to admit doing any work for anyway!??

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  25. Laurie:
    So far so good, and the whole village sings his praises!
    XO
    WWW

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  26. Gosh Laura:
    No the whole scene is basically under the table. That is how the system operates here and it is condoned by Demz Wot Rulez. I've never seen it quite so endemic as here. It is a cultural issue. I would be considered half mad if I put word out I wanted everything legal and above board and then I would never get anyone to do the work as I wouldn't be trusted. Everyone is caught like me, I've had many private conversations. It is never talked about publicly or featured in the media.
    It is a complicated issue as most citizens here feel completely ripped off by the powerful fish lobbies=government and feel this is a way of striking back financially.
    XO
    WWW

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  27. Sounds exactly like Ireland in the not so good old days! It's something in the Irish psyche, I think. Or maybe it's in the water ;o) xot

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  28. Tessa:
    I have a brother who spent the last half of his life so far doing "nixers" (remember that word?!) which involved running from job sites when the inspectors showed up and hiding money in that great old standby, the mattress.
    You should hear his justifications!
    XO
    WWW

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  29. not Newfoundland sadly - I have my fingers crossed for Vancouver but first it'll be a spell in Moncton!

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  30. Moncton, Conor! I can just about wave atcha!
    Will you sidetrip your way here for a spell?
    XO
    WWW

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