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Showing posts from April, 2008

Officers of Revenue and Customs

Following the merger of the Inland Revenue and Customs & Excise we should be used to references to Officers of Revenue and Customs. I'm grateful to Mike Truman, Editor of Taxation magazine for pointing out that this means they are ORCs.

And I've realised that, as the combined HMRC need combined powers for the ORCs to exercise, when we talk about their powers, we could use the acronym: PORCS

This could lead to ORCs using their PORCs to identify when taxpayers have told Porkies.

George Carman

When the comedian Ken Dodd was charged with tax fraud in 1989 he vetted a string of barristers before eventually telling his solicitor that he wanted to see George Carman. This proved to be a wise move.

The case bore many of the hallmarks of a typical Carman performance: a famous defendant, seemingly incontrovertible evidence and a sensational acquittal. The result owed much to Carman's deftness at arguing that comic genius and careful accounting were strangers.

He encapsulated the hypothesis in a phrase that he rightly judged would strike a chord with the jury: "Some accountants are comedians," he said. Then, after a pause: "But comedians are never accountants."

With thanks to Keith Gordon of Atlas Chambers for reminding me of this story and quote.

HMRC forms

I am reminded of a quote that I saw at the 200 years of Income Tax exhibition from the 1850's as to how the revenue authorities even then were minded to produce forms that were so unintelligible that it was beyond comprehension how it was expected that ordinary members of the public should be able to complete them accurately.

Thanks to Stephen Dowers for this recollection

Freedom of information - exemptions for HMRC

I had to post this somewhere. Say you have a suspicion about what may be a fake National Insurance number. You go to HMRCs manual to read the section about what to do if you suspect fraud. This is what you'll find.

The page is headed:
NIM39140 - National Insurance Numbers (NINOs): Format and Security: What to do if you suspect or discover fraud

Tax Revolt

Hats off to the game boys at Accountancy Age. Their new online game involves zapping the Chancellor as he pops up and down all over the Chamber in the House of Commons. Every time you miss the CT rate goes up by 1%. It drops again each time you hit him.

This is not an endorsement! It'll zapp your time but it qualifies for inclusion here as it's a bit of fun.

Accrual world

Just came across an online Sci Fi novel, Accrual World, written by Andy Blackford.

The novel explores a world where accountants have been banned and forced to go underground to help impoverished businesses survive in the resulting chaos. This wry look at an Orwellian world is apparently a year-long project written for accountants whose thoughts and inputs are warmly welcomed on the accrual world blog.

You can access pdf chapters and a summary of the book on theaccrual world website.

The top 10 signs you need a new accounting system

The top 10 signs you need a new accounting system are:

10. The service technician keeps threatening to retire
9. “Reconciliation” is your middle name
8. You ask for “proficiency in DOS” when hiring staff
7. When calling Support you hear laughter in the background
6. Salesmen no longer call you about upgrades
5. You have to go for coffee whenever you click on “Post”
4. Your system came on diskettes
3. The last person to know the setup password retired to Florida
2. Nobody understands the reports

and the top sign you need a new accounting system is . . .

1. Your sub-ledgers need counselling for “irreconcilable differences”

With thanks and credit to Bill Kennedy

April fool tax rise announced for caravan owners

1 Apr
The caravan tax is justified on the basis of the economic loss to the country caused because of the build-up of slow-moving queues of traffic, especially in country areas, due to caravans. The Government's press release claims that not only is excessive fuel used and time lost, but many accidents are caused when frustrated drivers try to overtake slow-moving caravans. The Chancellor claims that the revenues raised by the tax (£250 pa per caravan) will be used to improve roads in areas which suffer most from caravan congestion.A spokesman for the Caravan Club predicted that its normally-placid members might feel they are being backed into a corner by the Chancellor, and predicted a summer of disruption as furious caravanners drive even more slowly in protest over this discriminatory measure. It is said that politically active elements of the caravan fraternity are considering organising a blockade of the M5 on bank holiday weekend in protest (not that anyone would be likely t…

April fool tax rise announced on gum chewers

1-Apr In a late addition to the Finance Bill, Chancellor Alistair Darling has proposed two new taxes, both said to be based on a desire to have a 'greener and healthier' Britain.The chewing gum tax will increase the cost of a packet of chewing gum to £4.50 from April 2009. This tax (as well as similar massive increases in the tax on chewing tobacco and Betel nuts) has been justified on the basis of the huge cost of gum removal and the public health issues raised by products that encourage public expectoration - said to be one of the main factors behind the rising number of cases of tuberculosis.These measures are contained in the Treasury Order for Safeguarding Health (TOSH) of 1 April 2008.Conceived by Joe Reevey of Conscious Solutions