Friday, August 22, 2014

When a young accountant bought a donkey

Many years ago a young accountant, Warren, moved to the country and bought a donkey from an old farmer for £200.

The farmer agreed to deliver the donkey the next day. When he drove up the farmer said: "Sorry son, but I have some bad news. The donkey died."
Warren replied, "Well then, just give me my money back." The farmer said, "Can't do that. I've gone and spent it already." Warren said, "OK, then just unload the donkey."

The farmer asked, "What ya gonna do with him?" Warren replied: "I'm going to raffle him off." Farmer: "You can't raffle off a dead donkey!" Warren was insistent: "Sure I can. Watch me. I just won't tell anybody he is dead."

A month later the farmer met up with Warren and asked, "What happened with that dead donkey?" 

Warren replied: "I raffled him off. I sold 500 tickets at £2 a piece and made a profit of £800."

The farmer was astonished: "Didn't anyone complain?"

Warren replied: "Just the guy who won. So I gave him his £2 back."

Rumour has it that some years later Warren returned to the City and joined one of the largest firms of accountants, where he eventually became senior partner.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Very thick skinned accountant wanted by boss of Ryanair

I was amused by this headline in The Times: Wanted by Ryanair: accountant, very thick-skinned.
Rarely does an accountancy job qualify as a hazardous posting in a hostile environment. However, there is a vacancy for a personal aide to the notoriously volatile boss of Ryanair.
The Irish airline is advertising for an “assistant to Ryanair’s CEO”, Michael O’Leary, stipulating an “ambitious qualified accountant” able to work in a “demanding, challenging and interesting role”.

Good luck if this appeals and you get the job!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Death and Taxes and Zombies

The following academic paper was brought to my attention after I tweeted a link to a newspaper report that incorrectly implied that more and more people are being 'hit' by inheritance tax while they are still alive.
This article fills a glaring gap in the academic literature by examining how the estate and income tax laws apply to the undead. Beginning with the critical question of whether the undead should be considered dead for estate tax purposes, the article continues on to address income tax issues the undead are likely to face. In addition to zombies, the article also considers how estate and income tax laws should apply to vampires and ghosts. Given the difficulties identified herein of applying existing tax law to the undead, new legislation may be warranted. However, any new legislation is certain to raise its own set of problems. The point here is not to identify the appropriate approach. Rather, it is to goad Congress and the IRS into action before it is too late.
The paper was inspired by the following perception:
The U.S. stands on the precipice of a financial disaster, and Congress has done nothing but bicker. Of course, I refer to the coming day when the undead walk the earth, feasting on the living. A zombie apocalypse will create an urgent need for significant government revenues to protect the living, while at the same time rendering a large portion of the taxpaying public dead or undead. The government’s failure to anticipate or plan for this eventuality could cripple its ability to respond effectively, putting us all at risk. 
Death and Taxes and Zombies was written by Adam Chodorow of Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law and published July 5, 2012
98 Iowa Law Review 1207 (2013) 

With many thanks to Iain Campbell for the link

Friday, July 11, 2014

All accountants are.......?

When you start searching in Google the clever little thing offers to complete your search string. In effect the system recognises and offers you the rest of what other people have searched for even if the words are in a different order.

Here are some of the suggestions Google offered me recently by reference to the few words I typed in each case:

all accountants are....
....boring
.....alcoholics

most accountants are....
accountants most unhappy
accountants most likely to have an affair
most famous accountants
why don't accountants....
....get paid overtime?
.....consider opportunity cost [of their time]?
can accountants....
...certify documents?
...sign passports?
....work from home?
....become rich?

Inspired by David Gilroy, "Director of Stuff & Things", at Conscious Solutions Limited, whose latest newsletter referenced a similar exercise he did re solicitors.

Friday, July 04, 2014

What clients say to wind up their accountant

What do clients say that winds you up?

  • "I just popped everything in this carrier bag here - I knew you could sort it all out for me."
  • "My friend's accountant says....."
  • "I need a mortgage reference - you will make the figures look good for me won't you?"
  • "A friend in the pub said that he's certain that...."
  • "My van was broken into and........... all of my receipts were stolen"
  • "How can I have made such much profit when I've no money left in the bank"
  • "My son has been onto the HMRC web site and......."
  • " I've already signed my tax return. Just fill in the details as usual"
  • "I've put the cost of the new extension through, as I do make coffee in the new kitchen while I am working from home"
  • "I will be able to pay you once someone has paid me." Always said AFTER you have completed their accounts.
  • "My mate in the pub knows someone whose uncle-in-law reckons that I'm being overcharged"

Friday, June 27, 2014

John Challis on why he didn't become a tax inspector

John Challis tells the story that in the late 1970's he was summoned by one of her Majesty's Tax Inspectors to discuss his meagre contribution to the Inland Revenue.

John notes that he sat before a middle-aged grey suited man who had obviously not seen the light of day for some time and, after a few minutes silence, the Inspector looked up and said: "You seem to be remarkably unsuccessful in your chosen profession, why don't you give it up and do something more rewarding?"

John thought for a moment and replied: "What? You mean become a tax inspector or something?"

"There's no need to be offensive," replied the Inspector.

John says he's rather glad he didn't follow the Inspector's advice. [Since then he's gone onto star as Boysie in Only Fools and Horses and in the spin-off sit com The Green Green Grass]

Friday, June 20, 2014

Dictionary definition (or not) of timesheet

As suggested by Cara Miller of Miller Walsh Associates in an article for Accountancy Age:
Timesheet (noun): swearword commonplace in many a UK accountany office. Bane of life. Likely to cause lots of sighing. Method of keeping boss happy while driving everyone else crazy...
Can you suggest any further definitions?