From Richard Allen, of Retailers Against VAT Abuse (Ravas), via email:
"The most ludicrous tax avoidance arrangement I ever saw (and the first I encountered) was the great Polish Gnome ruse. When I used to tour Poland with a band we often crossed the East German/Polish border. Massed around every petrol station on the border were thousands of Garden Gnomes. It looked like a Gnome army preparing to invade Germany. I had no idea what this was until years later I heard it mentioned and explained on Radio 4. Apparently the demand for garden Gnomes is so high in Germany (where they originate) that it was worth selling them in Poland because the tax on Gnomes was much lower there. Germans crossed the border to get their Gnomes at the Gnome farm. I understand the tax saving is now gone and the Gnome dodge is now a distant memory.....
I also saw lorry loads of cars with no wheels followed by lorry loads of wheels going into Poland...another tax dodge (they were assembled in Poland and tax relief was claimed on the un-roadworthy wheel-less cars)."
Although dwarfed (sorry) by most other tax topics and tax gremlins that we write about, this bit of fun was at the end of the day not entirely harmless.