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The MPs' expenses scandal is no laughing matter. I have written a number of pieces about the tax issues on the TaxBuzz blog.
But this blog is a place for laughs so here is a selection of some of the more amusing letters taken from The Telegraph's letter pages:
Cabinet members may not know how to complete a self-assessment tax form but they certainly know how to complete an expenses claim - Pat Lamb, Exeter
Alistair Darling needs an accountant to ensure he pays the correct tax. Doesn't he know HMRC will do the calculation free of charge if the form is submitted by October 31? - Dr Malclom Parsloe, Battle, East Sussex
John Wick, the whistleblower, should henceforth be known as 'Deep Moat' - Robert Humm, Stamford. Lincolnshire
The word 'professional' claimed by some politicians is, after all, only a synonym for 'mercenary' - Rev Philip Foster. Hemmingford Abbots, Cambridgeshire
If Alistair Darling and his colleagues are unable to complete their tax returns witho…
Emily was the guest presenter at last week's Taxation awards ceremony at the London Hilton on Park Lane.
She explained that earlier in the day she had been sitting in her room running through her script and practicing (good move). When room service arrived she had been repeating all of the award titles and was embarrassed to realise that some sounded as though she wasn't saying 'tax', but 'sex'.
Her timing was perfect later as she paused momentarily when announcing certain awards. Some of the best were: Best international ...tax team = Best international sex teamBest general ...tax team = Best general sex teamBest in house ....tax team = Best in house sex teamBest ...tax investigations team = Best sex investigations teamBest 'big four' ...tax team = Best Big four sex teamAnd the two others where she made some other relevant comment put us in mind of Sex writer of the year andSex personality of the yearThis twist gave all 600 or so atte…
Most people (in the UK anyway) who hear these two words together think of Benjamin Franklin (1706-90) who is usually credited with saying: "In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."This was apparently written in a letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy, 1789, which was re-printed in The Works of Benjamin Franklin, 1817.
Before that however Daniel Defoe used a similar phrase in The Political History of the Devil, 1726: "Things as certain as death and taxes, can be more firmly believed."And much more recently Margaret Mitchell says the following in her book Gone With the Wind, 1936: "Death, taxes and childbirth! There's never any convenient time for any of them."
A tax adviser confided in me recently that one reason she enjoyed her work was the human interest side of things. By way of example she told me of the new client who explained his existing trust structure. It had been set up for his future illegitimate children.
Apparently he considered it likely that at some stage in the future he would father children who would be illegitimate and he considered tax planning for this eventuality to be a priority!
What's the strangest form of tax planning you've ever considered?
Ok - I know MPs and their expenses aren't directly 'accountancy' related but there are connections. And of my 3 blogs this was the only one on which I could even vaguely justify posting this insightful comment by Mark Thomas in the Guardian: When benefit cheats get caught working and signing on, they get punished. They don't form a committee made up of other benefit claimants to debate how they might make new rules to prevent themselves from doing it again. They certainly don't appear on BBC News barking that "they work extremely hard and made a simple mistake."Nor can an exposed tax dodger offer to pay back money because they are "concerned about how it looks to the outside world", and then walk away with no repercussion.
Maybe it should be the subtitle of the new HMRC Taxpayer's Charter?
It's just a suggestion I spotted recently and noted that it's appeared in various places. Seemed a worthy contender for inclusion on this blog.
How would you feel if HMRC adopted this then? "We've got what it takes to take what you've got"
(The draft Charter already states that they intend to "relentlessly pursue those who bend or break the rules". I've already shared my views about this on the Tax Buzz blog in a piece titled: How far can you bend the rules?)
A simple analysis suggests that this Edward Lear poem is all about tax avoidance.
The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea [going offshore obviously] In a beautiful pea green boat, They took some honey, and plenty of money, [evidently cash] Wrapped up in a five pound note. [money laundering perhaps?]
Pussy said to the Owl, 'You elegant fowl! How charmingly sweet you sing! O let us be married! too long we have tarried: But what shall we do for a ring?' They sailed away, for a year and a day, To the land where the Bong-tree grows [obviously a tax haven]
The big clue is in that penultimate line. Leaving the UK for a year and a day is the minimum period of absence required to ensure that they secured non-resident status under the rules then in place.
The above analysis was offered by Andrew Hubbard, newly installed President of CIOT, after the Chartered Tax Advisers' address last night on the anniversary of Edward Lear…
This is one of the highlights from a survey published a few years back. I came across it again recently and thought it worthy of recording on this blog for posterity.The image of the dull, grey accountant was shattered by a survey in 2002 that claimed to have evidence that they are more interesting and adventurous than other people. According to the Daily Telegraph's report, Accountants are more likely to socialise, they watch less television and enjoy more sex. This was the conclusion of a "monotony monitor" aimed at exposing those whose life was more rut race than rat race. Apparently accountants watched less than an hour's television in two weeks. They had sex an average of six times in a fortnight, compared with the average three, and most played some kind of sport.
Not sure I should admit to what follows. Like most people I guess I was unaware of International hug week - which starts today 1 May 2009. Then my PR lady drafted a press release for a seminar I'm running later in the month for non-accountants. The headline is: Hug your Accountant and see your business soar
Perhaps giving your Accountant a hug during 'International Hug Week' may not be the best way to gain business referrals, but the return of a popular business seminar could show you exactly how to build successful relationships with local accountants that could generate literally hundreds of referrals. My PR lady tells me that International Hug Week was started in Burnley, England by Debra Brown in 2008. The London Evening Standard is amongst those that have recognised it this year.