Tuesday, October 27, 2009

When Andersens went into Deloitte.

Some firms merge.
Sometimes one firm acquires the other.
Sometimes this is referred to as a takeover.

Recently I heard that, back in 2002 when Andersens went into Deloitte, the words 'merger', 'acquisition' and 'takeover' were all banned. Instead staff and partners were instructed that the correct and only word to use was simply, the 'transaction'.

Perhaps this was to avoid references to my preferred description of so many such 'transactions' - a mergeover.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Am I a sad old GIT?

Sadly I have to admit that I am Genuinely Interested in Tax (GIT).

Who else fits this description?

I think it was Tony Jenkins who I first heard admitting he was a sad GIT (for the same reason)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Forwarding scam tax refund emails to HMRC

So, what happens when you forward an obvious scam tax refund e-mail to HMRC?

Peter Lashmar received this automated reply:
-----------
Subject: Inappropriate Attachment

The following email message contains an unacceptable attachment and has been blocked.

From: peter@xxxxxxxx
To: phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk
Subject: FW: Recalculation of your fiscal acitivity
Date: 10/20/09
Time: 14:01:23

The Sender should contact the addressee to discuss an alternative method of sending the information.

The blocked message will be deleted after 30 days.
----------------
In other words HMRC's spam blocker blocks the very messages that HMRC is asking people to forward to them. Doh!

Richard Murphy has been diagnosed as suffering

During his presentation at Dave Hartnett's Business Breakfast at the Treasury yesterday morning, Richard Murphy reminded us that his wife is a doctor.

Apparently she has diagnosed him as having what he suspects is a terminal disease - Excitement by Taxation!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The things clients say about the taxman....

In conversation with an accountant recently he told me he'd lost track of how many clients say things like:
Are you on some sort of xxxxing commission for the taxman?!
or
Do you get some sort of sadistic pleasure from the size of the cheques you're asking me to send to the taxman?
Any more?
(Please keep them clean!)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

If Gordon were King and life were a fairy tale...

One day king Gordon called to the palace his chief tax collector, Dave. ‘I really must have some more taxes’ said the king ‘otherwise I will not have anything to pay my servants (and that includes you, by the way). But I don’t want to annoy my subjects, so what can we do?’

‘We don’t need any new laws’ explained Dave ‘in fact you could just issue a proclamation that from now on we will expect your subjects and especially the bankers to forget the actual wording of the law and instead act in accordance with your Majesty’s intentions when making those laws. No one need bother about the written laws ever again! We could call this concept “the spirit of the law”.’

‘But how do I know what my intentions were?’ exclaimed the king, ‘I just pass the laws you give me.’

‘Sire, I shall be more than happy to tell your Majesty what your Majesty’s intentions were, should the need ever arise’ beamed Dave, bowing lowly.

Adapted from a wonderful fairy tale penned by Trevor Johnson, a senior technical editor with CCH. UK tax advisers and accountants may notice a similarity between the fairy tale and prospective developments in the interpretation of our tax laws.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Watch out if you don't weigh your bananas properly

Who'd have thought that bananas outweighed all other produce?

The recently published Customs Information Paper 67 notifies businesses that the liability to customs civil penalties will be changing to take account of recent changes in European legislation. The changes relate to just the following four areas:
  1. Authorised Economic Operator (AEO): Businesses that fail to notify changes which affect the ability to be an AEO may be subject to a penalty;
  2. Transit: the transit amendments reflect the recent changes that have been made to European Legislation;
  3. Preference: Any business that provides incorrect information for obtaining preferential treatment or proof of origin may be subject to a penalty; and
  4. Banana weighing: Businesses which fail to fulfil the necessary conditions necessary to weigh bananas may be subject to a penalty.
Why just bananas? Isn't that just bananas?!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Children who work at least 16 hours a week

The Working Tax Credit is more widely available than some people might think. HMRC are keen to publicise this although it seems that, in so doing, at least one local authority is condoning bad parenting. Hertfordshire's website states that:
"The Working Tax Credit is available to qualifying individuals with children who work at least 16 hours per week."

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tax Institute's Charter set to music


At the CIOT President's reception last night in Drapers' Hall, London, President Andrew Hubbard conducted a choral recital of the Institute’s Royal Charter, which he had composed himself for the occasion.

The Charter, issued by the Queen in 1994, sets out the Institute’s objectives and gives it the right to call itself a ‘Chartered Institute’.

The text of the edited version of the Charter performed by the City of London Choir, conducted by Andrew Hubbard, was:

ELIZABETH THE SECOND by the grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Our other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith:

TO ALL TO WHOM THESE PRESENTS SHALL COME, GREETING!

WHEREAS an humble Petition has been presented to Us by The Institute of Taxation (a company limited by guarantee and hereinafter referred to as “the Company”) praying that We might be graciously pleased to grant a Royal Charter.

The objects of the Institute shall be... to advance public education in and promote the study of the administration and practice of taxation and the principles of economic and political science in relation to taxation.

And it is Our Royal Will and Pleasure that this Our Charter shall ever be construed benevolently and in every case most favourably to the Institute.

IN WITNESS whereof We have caused these Our Letters to be made Patent.

Witness Ourself at Westminster the twenty-ninth day of April in the forty-third year of Our Reign.

THE SCHEDULE. President: Malcolm James Gammie. Deputy President: Ian David Luder. Vice-President: Gerald Victor Hart

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Accountant fired for sending emails in CAPS


A New Zealand accountant has learned the importance of email etiquette after losing her job because she sent too many emails that were written in all caps, with a red and bold font.

ACCORDING TO HER FORMER EMPLOYER, HER EMAILS WERE "CONFRONTATIONAL" AND "CAUSED DISHARMONY" IN THE WORKPLACE.

Having lost her job in Dec 2007 she later received compensation for unfair dismissal from her former employer according to the New Zealand Herald.

Monday, October 12, 2009

"Why I love paying tax"

Loved this piece by Caitlin Moran in the Times today: Why I love paying tax.
Every time I write out a gigantic cheque to the Inland Revenue, I get a bit excited. Woooo! I go. What a seriously grown-up thing to be doing! It’s like drinking whisky, buying an engagement ring or chopping down a tree. In a world where nearly other signifier of adulthood — fighting Vikings, dying during childbirth, growing a beard, nurturing your own yeast-culture, having a leg ripped off in an horrific agricultural accident — has been replaced with an unending childhood of telly, jogging bottoms and strawberry-flavoured medicine, writing a bracingly large cheque is pretty much the only adult duty we have left. On this basis alone, I find it exhilarating. I kind of want it to hurt a bit. I feel like The Joker facing down Batman: “Come on — stick National Insurance on top of it! I can handle it! VAT me! VAT ME!”

Friday, October 09, 2009

Boogles bookkeeping brilliant rewrite of song: Hero

Lisa Newton of Boogles Ltd has a unique approach to promoting her bookkeeping business.
Fab singing and graphics too.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Tall Traveller Tax


A campaign has been started against what has been dubbed BA's Tall Traveller Tax.

Introduced yesterday this is a £50 per flight surcharge for passengers who book the emergency exit seats. Although the surcharge applies to all passengers these seats are most commonly booked by tall travellers. This is because the emergency exit seats are the only places in economy class that tall people can fit without suffering great discomfort (and probable increased risk of DVT).

So says Alan Stevens who is over 6ft tall and the man behind the campaign. He hopes that other tall people will be standing up for their rights too. Sounds like a job for the Tall Persons Club.

For the record my son is well over six foot so I do sympathise with Alan.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Longer new year's eve parties thanks to VAT rate change

Spare a thought for the pubs and clubs that will remain open beyond midnight on 31 December when the VAT rate reverts to 17.5%.

Will it be necessary to issue two VAT invoices? One charging VAT at 15% for goods and services provided before midnight and another at 17.5% for those provided later into the night after the rate changes? Can you imagine the mayhem - and the unwelcome sight of barmen running around trying to issue valid VAT invoices mid-party?

It seems that the Government wants to avoid spoiling parties in this way as the Financial Secretary to the Treasury announced in May that:

"HMRC will allow a few hours’ trading grace in which [pubs and clubs] may continue charging the 15 per cent. rate for a session that goes into the early hours of 1 January."

So expect some parties to continue well into the morning of New Year's day. If you attend one, do sing a vote of thanks to the Government for giving you an excuse to party longer.

And what chance the necessary VAT rate changes will be made correctly later when everyone's suffering from their hangovers? Ok, maybe it won't be so much fun after all.

My thanks to Mike Thexton for drawing this to my attention.

I wrote a more serious piece about the VAT nightmare before Xmas, that is now looming, shortly after the VAT rate changes were announced.

Monday, October 05, 2009

P45 kills off ex employee

A report in the Bournemouth Echo today is titled: Reports of his death have been greatly exaggerated!

Apparently HMRC wrote to 25yr old chef, Charles Westney, offering condolences for his own death.

Attempting to check the tax position for the “estate of the late Cecil Charles Westney”, the correspondence came as something of a shock to the chef.

“I can feel a pulse so I’m very much alive!” said Charles, whose middle name is Cecil.


When he queried the letter with HMRC they told him the blame appeared to lie with a previous employer, who they said had filled out his last P45 incorrectly. (One assumes that HMRC wasn't just referring to the sequence of his first and middle names!)

- Is it also possible that this mistake is related to a different error noted recently on this blog: HMRC's computers – an unfortunate conjunction of death and taxes?

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Calculating your tax in 1930

A man offered his simple formula for income tax.
Dependents: one blonde wife, a sedan car, three goldfish and two children.
Multiply grandfather's age by 6 7/8, subtracting your telephone number.
Add hat size and subtract license plate number.

With these preliminaries done, the rest is easy.

Deducting $1,000 for keeping wife a blonde the whole year, divide the remainder by number of lodges belonged to, multiply by number of electric lights in house, and divide by collar size, giving gross income, which, after dividing by chest measurement and subtracting blood pressure, leaves net amount owed to government.

According to News from 1930 - the above appeared in the Wall Street Journal Friday September 26th 1930.