A month ago I received a letter from Spain congratulating me on winning $500,000 in a lottery. I have not been to Spain since 2007 so it took a very long time to draw the said lottery. I do not remember buying a ticket and the address that my welcome letter of advice came to is one that I would never have given anyone in Spain. Despite these anomalies I sent off the fax claiming my prize .

After a couple of faxes confirming that I had really been identified as the winner and that the prize had been insured so that no one else could collect it I was then informed of the method of collection. All I had to do to collect was to send $3000 to my exclusive agent to pay transfer costs.

We are still negotiating. My total expenses to date total $2.40 for faxes.

I must say that this scam is much more professional than the Nigerian offers of millions of dollars for providing a bank account and access to that bank account. Not only that. This money would be totally tax free because it was lottery winnings and it would also be legal .

Whenever you hear of get rich quick schemes or rewards which get around the tax system it is important to treat them with bucketloads of scepticism. I have been practising in the tax area for nearly forty years now and it has been interesting during that time to see all the loopholes that have closed year after year.

There are some members of society who hold the view that whenever there are taxes there are tax avoidance schemes.

I don’t disagree with that entirely but there really is no fun left in tax planning any more.