Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Inaccurate precision

An accountant was visiting the Natural History Museum and said to the person standing next to him, "That dinosaur is two billion years and ten months old."

"How did you get such exact information?"

"I was here ten months ago and the guide said the dinosaur was two billion years old."

Monday, February 23, 2009

Brown is my Shepherd, I shall not work.

Brown is my Shepherd, I shall not work.
He leadeth me beside still factories.
He restoreth my faith in the Conservative Party.
He guideth me to the path of unemployment.

Yeah, though I wait for my dole,
I own the Bank that refuses me.
Brown has anointed my Income Taxes,
My expenses runneth over my income,
Surely, poverty and hard living will follow me all the days of his term.

From hence forth we will live all the days
of our lives in a rented home with an overseas landlord.

I am glad I am British,
I am glad that I am free,
but I wish I was a dog

and Brown was a tree.

- Anon

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Was Eddie Izzard nearly an accountant?

Comedian and actor Eddie Izzard was born in Yemen, where his father was an accountant for BP.
- Profile in the Independent in 1999

He says he is very like his father. 'We’re about 80 per cent similar.
- Profile in Daily Telegraph in 2013


It was during his stint at Sheffield University, between boarding school and comedy busking, while studying accounting and financial management, that Izzard first tried his hand at stand-up.
- Profile in the Independent in 1999

For a short while, he wanted to be an accountant. He likes adding things up, he says. But he got kicked off his accountancy course for failing his exams. (He begged to do resits, but they wouldn't let him.)
- Profile in the Guardian in 2004



Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Accountant speak to describe a She-devil

In the Hollywood adaptation of Fay Weldon's book 'The life and loves of a She-devil', the accountant character, Bob, says to Ruth, the title character:
"Life is made up of assets and liabilities. As a man I have four basic assets. One, a home that is my castle. Two, a family that is caring and devoted. Three, a successful career that I have worked very hard to maintain and, four, the freedom to enjoy the fruits of my labour. But when it comes to liabilities, I have only one. That's you Ruth."

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Eastenders and LLPs

Limited Liability Partnerships first became a reality in the UK as from 6 April 2001. That morning I was interviewed on Radio 5 live and then on BBC Breakfast TV and was asked the inevitable question "So what exactly is an LLP?"

I'd anticipated this and had tested a number of simple explanations that might make sense to the man in the street. The principal point I wanted to get across was that the members of an LLP are not jointly and severally liable as are the partners in a conventional business partnership.

In the end though I chose an analogy involving the previous night's episode of the popular TV soap, Eastenders. Viewers had just found out 'Who shot Phil Mitchell'.

So I explained: Take Eastenders for example, If Steve, Dan, Ian, Mark and Lisa were in a business partnership they could all be sued even though only one of them had done something wrong - but if they were in business as an LLP, only Lisa who did the dirty deed, could be sued."

I recall that Sara Coburn, the interviewer, only just managed to retain her composure and made clear to the viewers that she had never expected to be discussing Eastenders during the Business section of the programme.

For my part I was just relieved that no one who saw the show pointed out the flaw in my analogy: Shooting Phil was a criminal act and partners are NOT jointly and severally liable in such cases!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

New phrase: The "tax buzz-saw"

Ok, it's American and it's not as new as I assumed when it popped up in my 'Google alerts' today.

I'd created the alert as I write the TaxBuzz blog and I wanted to know if it was being quoted anywhere else.

Today's story was in the context of Senator Tom Daschle who has withdrawn his name from consideration to become President Obama's secretary of Health and Human Services. He said he didn't want his income-tax troubles to be "a distraction."

'The Week' says:

"It was nice of Daschle to spare Obama the embarrassment of having to fire him—now let's see who gets caught in the "tax buzz-saw" next."

When I then checked online I found that the expression has been used before in US papers, generally to indicate a tax angle to a 'buzz-saw of opposition'.

My favourite observation though is that Google suggests that if you're searching for a 'Tax Buzz Saw' you're most likely to be interested in......

HM Revenue & Customs
www.businesslink.gov.uk/taxhelp

Understand taxes with information & resources from HM Revenue & Customs

I think that's a bit cutting, don't you?

Monday, February 02, 2009

Do other accountants play 'chicken' in January?


One of my regular readers sent me this note today. I thought it worthy of posting on this blog.
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"I play a version of Chicken each year as an incentive for me to get my client’s tax returns in on time. I always file mine last (apart from the ones who haven’t got their info in on time) and this year, for all the usual reasons, I was right up against the wire. I’ve attached my receipt mail as proof – filed online at 23:59! I must confess that I did knock at least one little old lady out of the way to achieve this but she wouldn’t have got a penalty and hers was done at 00:10 Sunday morning.

Does anyone else play daft games like this at year end or is this just part of the madness that makes us accept all the client’s various failings as though they were our own. If they do – have I won?"

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With thanks to Paul Koumi (who gave his permission for me to post this here). I added the picture myself!