Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Barrister, the accountant and the pig farmer

This 7 and a half minute video covers the explanation of a 'perfect crime' - a tax fraud perpetrated by Roger Stannard - a specialist tax barrister, an accountant and a pig farmer. A successful prosecution ensued.

It's not really funny - other than that a supposedly reputable barrister who specialised in advising on tax avoidance schemes over stepped the mark. The title of this piece comes from one of the early statements by the voice-over on the video.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Board of Inland Revenue v Haddock - The Negotiable Cow

This was a ficticious case written by the humourist A. P. Herbert for Punch magazine as part of his series of Misleading Cases in the Common Law.

The case involved a Mr. Albert Haddock, who had been in profound disagreement with the Collector of Taxes in relation to the size of his tax bill.

Eventually Mr. Haddock appeared at the offices of the Collector of Taxes, and delivered to him a large white cow "of malevolent aspect". On the cow was stencilled in red ink:

To the London and Literary Bank, Limited
Pay the Collector of Taxes, who is no gentleman, or Order, the sum of fifty seven pounds £57/0/0 (and may he rot!)

Mr. Haddock tendered the cow to the Collector in payment of his tax bill and promptly demanded a receipt.

During the "hearing", the fictitious judge, Sir Basil String, enquired whether stamp duty had been paid on the negotiable instrument. The fictitious prosecutor, Sir Joshua Hoot KC confirmed that a two-penny stamp was affixed to the dexter horn of the cow.

The Collector declined the cow, and had objected that it would be impossible to pay the cow into a bank account. Perhaps unhelpfully, Mr Haddock suggested that the Collector could endorse the cow to any third party to whom the Collector might owe money, adding that "there must be many persons in that position".

A full and entertaining summary of the case can be found on Wikipedia

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Robert Morley had problems with the taxman

"Like most actors I have been in continuous dispute, if that is the phrase, with Her Majesty's Commissioners of Inland Revenue ever since she came to the throne. Before that I had the same trouble with her father's and with his father's come to that. But I don't wish to dwell on the subject."

- Robert Morley in his book 'Responsible Gentleman' (according to Peter Vaines and Roger Nuttall in their book "The Bottom Line")

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Taxation episode (The Smokescreen) from "Yes Prime Minister"

In January 1986 the political comedy " Yes Prime Minister" featured an episode "The Smokescreen" in which The Prime Minister, Jim Hacker, favours abolishing smoking through heavy taxation but he runs into strong opposition from the tobacco lobby and the Treasury department.

The following exchange between the PM and his permanent secretary seemed especially worthy of inclusion on this blog:

Sir Humphrey: Taxation isn't about what you need.
Jim Hacker: Oh, what is it about?
Sir Humphrey: Prime Minister, the Treasury doesn't work out what they need to spend and then think how to raise the money.
Jim Hacker: What does it do?
Sir Humphrey: They pitch for as much as they think they can get away with and then think what to spend it on.

I've attached also an extract from the start of the same episode where Sir Humphrey explains his view as to how all new Prime Ministers want to cut either taxes or public expenditure.....

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Something to worry about

A newly qualified chartered accountant applies for a job advertised in the Times.

He is interviewed by the owner of a small business who has built it up from scratch.

"I need a qualified accountant," says the man, "but mainly I’m looking for someone to do my worrying for me."

"How do you mean?" says the accountant.

"I have lots of things to worry about, but I want someone else to worry about money

"OK," says the accountant. "How much are you offering?"

"You can start on fifty thousand," says the owner.

"Fifty thousand pounds?" exclaims the accountant, "How can a business like this afford
to pay so much?"

"That," says the man, "is your first worry."

Monday, August 10, 2009

Chartered Accountants’ Lane

A street in India’s capital Delhi has been named Chartered Accountants’ Lane to recognise the area is home to a majority of the city’s chartered accountancy students and the offices of around 5,000 qualified accountants.

The move has not been universally welcomed however, even though the street had no name in the past. Lata Gupta, the local municipal councillor, had no prior warning of the move.

The sign bearing the name of the street also displays the name of some senior local chartered accountants. This has also annoyed the councillor.

‘Roads should be named after great leaders,’ she said, adding that could include a senior economist or even a chartered accountant.

With due credit to Accountancy Age for their report of the story.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Three partners in an accounting firm go out to lunch

Three partners in an accounting firm go out to lunch. They are the audit partner, the tax partner and the senior partner.

One of them sees a brass lamp lying in the gutter. Curious, they pick it up and give it a rub.

Instantly, a genie appears."You know the deal," says the genie. "Three wishes. But seeing there are three of you, you can have just one wish each."

"Great," says the audit partner. "Take me to the Caribean, give me a blonde and an endless supply of beer and leave me there for ever."

Pouf! There is a flash of light, a puff of smoke and he is gone.

"Now me," says the tax partner. "Take me to Panama, give me two blondes and an endless supply of offshore tax schemes and leave me there for ever."

Pouf! There is a flash of light, a puff of smoke and he is gone.

The genie turns to the senior partner. "And what do you want?"

"I want those two back in the office straight after lunch."

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Who was the first accountant?

Who was the first accountant?

Adam. He got interested in figures, turned the first leaf, made the first entry, lost interest after withdrawal, buggered up the monthly accounts and raised the first liability.

Do you really need certified copies of that?

Accountants frequently ask new clients to either bring their passport into the office or to supply certified copies. It's a requirement ...