Sunday, November 30, 2008

Now That’s What I Call Tax Advice

I recently spoke at a large ACCA meeting at the Fairfield Halls in Croydon. Just before I was introduced, an eagle eyed accountant asked me about the third set of initials after my name on the title slide projected on the screen. After my FCA and CTA (Fellow) I had included MMC.

I explained this was a bit of fun as they are the designatory letters for members of The Magic Circle (and, yes, I am a member).

The following day I received an email from the same guy. He revealed that he too had an unusual hobby for an accountant:

The Third Person to Ask

(aka : Now That’s What I Call Tax Advice)

Though it is true I can produce a rabbit from a hat

I’d rather extol savings from the flat rate scheme for VAT

The sleight of hand required in Three Card Monte I do know

But ways to grow your practice is what I’d prefer to show

To cut a woman in two halves, the secret I find plain

I’m sure you’d much prefer to know how to offset a gain

The most secure of lock and chain I’ll escape in a trice

It really is much better to just give good tax advice

For whilst my skills at magic give me a qualification

They’re not what I’m best know for, throughout the English nation

And since tax is my living, I’m sure that you can see

Why my lectures do not highlight those three letters, MMC.

No - I can't perform all those tricks but I'll allow the poetic licence as I loved the idea and much appreciated the thought.

Written by (and posted with the permission of) accountant poet: Steve Brown

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A timely retelling of an old joke - now featuring the Chancellor

Alastair Darling and the Michael Izza (CEO of the ICAEW) were arguing over who had the more noble profession and agreed it was whichever had been around the longest.

Michael, an accountant, convinced he'd won, quoted the bible. Even before God created Adam he created an orderly universe from chaos. An orderly universe implied the involvement of accountants to monitor and keep track of developments. By definition some of the angels must have been accountants. There were no taxes so no tax inspectors around that early in human history.

Alastair, a politician (the Chancellor no less) wasn't beaten. He listened patiently and then simply said: "Who do you think created the chaos?"

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The tax office auditions for the X factor

I think this video probably emanates from the same place as the ones I referred to in a previous post on this blog about Tax tunes.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Accountants practice safe XXX

XXX = Tax of course. What did you think!?

AIDS = Accountants In Deep Shit

It's what accountants get if they don't practice safe tax.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A modern day cowboy has spent many days crossing the western plains without water.

His horse has already died of thirst.

He's crawling through the sand, certain that he has breathed his last breath, when all of a sudden he sees an object sticking out of the sand several yards ahead of him.

He crawls to the object, pulls it out of the sand, and discovers what looks to be an old brief case.

He opens it and out pops a genie. But this is no ordinary genie.

She is wearing an HMRC Tax Office ID badge and a dull grey dress.

There's a calculator sticking out of her breast pocket, a bulging file in her hand and a pencil tucked behind one ear.

'Well, cowboy,' says the genie... 'You know how I work. You have three wishes.'

'I'm not falling for this.' said the cowboy. 'I'm not going to trust a Tax Office genie.'

'What do you have to lose? You've got no transportation, and it looks like you're a goner nyway!'

The cowboy thinks about this for a minute, and decides that the genie is right.

'OK, I wish I were in a lush oasis with plenty of food and drink.'

***POOF*** The cowboy finds himself in the most beautiful oasis he has ever seen. And he is surrounded with jugs of wine and platters of delicacies.

'OK, cowpoke, what's your second wish.'

'My second wish is that I was rich beyond my wildest dreams.'

***POOF*** The cowboy finds himself surrounded by treasure chests filled with rare gold coins and precious gems.

'OK, cowpuncher, you have just one more wish. Better make it a good one!'

After thinking for a few minutes, the cowboy says... 'I wish that no matter where I go, beautiful women will want and need me.'

***POOF*** He is turned into a tampon.

The moral of the story:

If the government offers you anything, there's going to be a string attached.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tax advice anyone?

Accountant and profit consultant Keith Lawrence was telling me about a recent experience he had with a prospective new client.

Could this happen to you?
There was an initial phone call from someone wanting help with their tax. After a brief conversation Keith invited them in to meet with him to see if he could help (and to see if he wanted to take them on as a client). On their arrival the 'client' looked around and expressed a little surprise that the office was smaller than he'd expected. He was also surprised to learn that Keith was an accountant as well as a tax adviser. He just wanted tax advice.

They sat down together and the 'client' started to explain his tax problem. When Keith raised the question of fees the 'client' was shocked. He'd assumed that tax advice was free.

After a few moments it then became apparent to Keith why the 'client' was so confused. He thought he had called The tax office. HMRC.

Monday, November 17, 2008

VISTA has become a permanent and welcome part of my life

For as long as I have owned my laptop running Windows Vista I have hated the programme. That flying blue bagel of death just winds me up. Still, earlier this week I became a changed man.
Expect to hear me praising VISTA in future.

What changed?

I realised that VISTA is the perfect acronym for the Tax Advice Network. It’s what you get when you come to our website:
Vetted Independent Specialist Tax Advisers. VISTA.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Fred McCauley on the News Quiz

During last weeks' show Fred suggested that the audience seemed less interested in interest rates than at a recent conference of chartered accountants where he was roundly applauded for telling a joke where the punchline was:
“.....and that was 2% over LIBOR!”

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Searching for an accountant

A business owner tells her friend that she is desperately searching for an accountant.

Her friend asks, “Didn’t your company hire an accountant a short while ago?”

The business owner replies, “That’s the accountant I’ve been searching for.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Ten laws of Accounting

1.Trial balances don’t
2.Working Capital does not
3.Liquidity tends to run out
4.Return on investments never will
5. Bottom line is only the tip of the iceberg.
6. If you need accounting to prove it, it was probably not true in the first place
7. There is nothing more permanent than a temporary account
8. An accountant is a man hired to explain that you did not make the money you did
9. Accounting is economics without assumptions
10. Obviously accounting pays, otherwise there would be no accountants.

Any more?

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Lies , damn lies and statistics

One of the first clients I ever visited when I started training as an accountant was a bookseller. I remember being unable to understand how the clerk had computed his percentages when sales were falling. These included such impossible results as minus 134% and minus 179%.

I explained how to compute the percentage movement in sales from one period to another. The look of joy on the clerk's face was a delight as he came to appreciate a key fact: Whilst upward trends had no limit (eg: increases of four time the previous week's sales would show as plus 400%), downward trends could never be worse than minus 100% (if no sales were made). He was thrilled.

I went back a few weeks later to check all was well. Unfortunately a stack of books (previously counted as 'sold') had been returned thus creating 'minus sales' ...............

Monday, November 03, 2008

Seven tips for managing your tax adviser


Your tax adviser leads a stressful life dealing with HMRC (the Taxman) and cannot cope with you being depressed as well.


Your tax adviser's ethical code requires him to be objective and independent.


You must appreciate that tax IS DIFFICULT and an occasional experience of negative income is only to be expected.


Unfortunately the jargon inherent in tax matters is not compatible with explaining it to someone like you in a way you would understand.


Though the planning may be ineffective and cost you a lot, the resulting thesis on the deficiencies of such schemes may result in the tax adviser acquiring further letters after his name.


It is an honour and a privilege to contribute, however modestly, to the well-being of such doughty fighters of Government rulebooks.


This will only cause your tax adviser unnecessary publicity and embarrassment.