On the second day of Christmas...


dovesMy true love sent to me: two turtle doves. In the original it seems that the turtle doves represent the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. Perhaps today we should think of them as the coalition leaders, David Cameron and Nick Clegg, who seem to bill and coo constantly over their partnership.

But there was no love lost between pigeon fanciers and HM Revenue & Customs a couple of years ago, when HMRC left pigeon racing out of the official list of sports, and petitioned the Queen, who is patron of the Royal Pigeon Racing Association (RPRA), to get this ruling reversed. What ruffled their feathers was that premises used for 'sports' are exempt from the rates, a local-authority tax. Under MHRC proposals to introduce rates on sports clubs and village halls, sports groups can formally apply for dispensation from HMRC for 80% relief and then to their local authority for a 20% reduction. So pigeon fanciers faced paying rates on their sheds, even though officially recognized sports such as yoga, arm-wrestling and trampolining were exempt.

That's how bird-brained our tax laws have become.