Thursday, December 30, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

If Santa was an accountant... (part two)

If Santa was an accountant...
  • ...he would report true and fair (naughty and nice)
  • ...he would require that you had 95% utilisation rates all year round
  • ...his work shop would be a grotty conference room without windows
  • ...you'd only have to be "materially" good to get "substantially all" of your gifts
  • ...most of the insignificant things on your wish list would be disregarded and "noted for next year"
  • ...he would give you review comments on your christmas list
  • ...he wouldn't get paid overtime but his elves would
  • ...it wouldn't be called an Xmas list, it would be a request list and listed in order of importance.
  • ...he'd have to follow those Hobby Loss Rules. Not much profit in the Santa business :-)
  • ...he'd wear a suit and tie instead of a red suit
  • ...he'd divide the world's children into assets and liabilities
  • ... there would be 4 big santas
This is a further selection of the suggestions volunteered by users of twitter in response to an invitation to use the hashtag: #ifsantawasanaccountant

Thursday, December 23, 2010

If Santa was an accountant... (part one)


If Santa was an accountant...
  • ...Christmas day would be referred to as "sign-off"
  • ...he should worry that Wikileaks would publish his list of presents
  • ...all of the kids clothes would be from "Baby GAAP"
  • ...his helpers would work in a small room cranking out toys during "present season" which gets longer every year.
  • ...letters to Santa would be carried forward from prior year
  • ...He'd take advantage of the North Pole's tax haven status
  • ...He'd probably moan about all the red tape he has to deal with
  • ...his family still wouldn't have a clue what he does at work
  • ...he would think about the mileage deduction for his reindeer drawn sleigh!
  • ...planning would be done after the gifts were delivered
This is just a small selection of the suggestions volunteered by users of twitter in response to an invitation to use the hashtag: #ifsantawasanaccountant

Sunday, December 19, 2010

What do the initials ACA stand for?

A recent advertising campaign by the ICAEW makes no mention of Chartered Accountants. It simply mentions ACAs.

Assume you didn't know that an ACA is an Associate of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW). What would you find out if you ask Google?
Looking just at the first few results you would have a choice of:
  • ACA training - for ICAEW
  • ACA is the representative body for UK consulting actuaries
  • ACA Sports Limited, a UK based online sports shop stocking Football Boots, Football Shirts, Team Kit, Footballs, Shin Guards, Goalkeeper Gloves and Clothing
  • ACA is an acronym that may refer to: A Current Affair, an Australian current affairs based television program [Thanks Wikipedia!]
  • Association for Continence Advice (ACA) - organisation for health and social care professionals concerned with the progression of care for continence.
Methinks someone is taking the proverbial!

And if you think that's bad, check out this more comprehensive list of ACA acronyms. It includes examples such as:
  • Adult Children of Alcoholics
  • Australian Cricketers' Association and
  • Asynchronous Criticality Avoidance
  • Oh, and this one: Association of Chartered Accountants.
Eh? An Association of Chartered Accountants? I thought it was an Institute.

The Americans aren't the only ones to be confused. ACA is also defined as 'Association of Chartered Accountants' on the BPP website. The links from that site make clear though that this is the same ACA as I have defined above. There is no Association. It's an Institute!

Many thanks to Justin Silverman for alerting me to the issue and thus inspiring this blog post.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Genuine tweets about tax, taxman and accountants

TAX!!! SO MAJESTICALLY BORING! I want to stick these receipts into the empty heart shaped cavity in the chest of the inland revenue.

STOP PRESS: The Inland Revenue wasted postage/ink/admin/ur taxes to advise that I owe EIGHT PENCE! Really, never knew they had such gsoh..
[ur = your; gsoh = good sense of humour]

Ugh...do I have to get up and go to work today? Haven't I already put in enough hrs this week? Sometimes I hate being a tax accountant :(

My accountant uses the words "bangin'" and "smoking" when discussing my tax return. I find this oddly comforting.

Visiting my tax accountant today - the only loud talker I can tolerate. Being friendly and the fact that I only see her 45 mins a yr helps.

I have embarrassingly ardent feelings for our accountant, Mel. He's in his seventies but efficiency and accuracy are SUCH a turn-on.

Really....one day I'll be a really great accountant. But the statistics are starting to get on my nerves today.

Just got a very nice tax rebate from the lovely people at the Inland Revenue. :-)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tax related xmas pressies - a Batmobile

If frivolous spending revs your engine, drive no further than a working replica of the Batmobile, available complete with rocket-exhaust flamethrower from Firebox.com for a whopping £120,000.

It’ll get the driver to client meetings at a fair lick; top speed is 90mph, which ain’t bad for an oversized toy that weighs nearly two tonnes. And, given that it’s the fabulously-finned version from the 1960s TV show, the car qualifies for road tax purposes as a classic (it says here). If it’s really authentic it’ll run on nuclear power and therefore create zero carbon dioxide emissions – thus qualifying for 100% capital allowances and a 5% benefit-in-kind charge. Vroom, vroom!

As suggested by Daniel Selwood, Taxation magazine's online editor.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Accountants' 10 Commandments (Dec 2010 version)

ACCOUNTANTS’ 10 COMMANDMENTS

1. You shall have no other Gods before me.

2. You shall not make for yourself any graven image of a tax inspector to throw darts at.

3. You shall not take the name of George Osborne in vain.

4. Remember the 5th April to keep it holy. If you have not saved tax by then, you may as well rest on that day.

5. Honour your accountant, who is doing a very good job for you.

6. You shall not murder, unless it is a City banker.

7. You shall not commit adultery – because marriage is tax efficient.

8. You shall not steal, unless you are Robin Hood.

9. You shall not bare false witness against your neighbour, unless your neighbour is a benefit thief.

10. You shall not covet your neighbour’s hammock, unless your neighbour is Gillian McKeith or Lembit Opik.

With grateful thanks to Michelle Fisher, of Sobell Rhodes, who tells me she prepared this for a recent 60second slot at her local BNI networking group.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

There's nothing certain but the UNDEAD and taxes

I've lost track of how many people have drawn this new game to my attention. Thank you everyone.
In 2010, a terrifying zombie outbreak threatens to consume humanity and you fall victim to the undead curse, doomed to hunger for human flesh. In a startling turn of events, the army actually manages to contain and eliminate the threat. Life quickly returns to normal.

Except you’re still a zombie. And it’s tax season.

Complete tax returns as fast as possible without eating your coworkers! With any luck, you can still make it to zombie partner.


Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Accountants anonymous

Allegedly heard at an accounting support group:
"It seemed so harmless. I started making journal entries..then, secretly at home, I would post the entries to T accounts, and then I started recording them in ledgers. It just felt so good, and then I started doing financial statements and I couldn't stop.... "
My apologies to anyone attending such a group and for whom this is a real issue.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

That nice man on the radio.....

After the ubiquitous John Whiting had spoken at an event recently, I was talking to one of his ex-colleagues. Let's call her 'Mandy'.

Mandy told me that her mother had been very impressed to learn that she worked with
"that nice man on the radio"
John of course has long been the BBC's first choice to explain tax issues on radio and TV.

I asked Mandy, in jest, if she'd ever thought to ask John for his autograph - as a gift for her mum. Maybe a signed photo even. She laughed.
"I'm pretty sure my mum has this picture of John Whiting in her head and imagines he looks like the actor John Forsythe who played Blake Carrington, in the 80s TV show, Dynasty."
We mused for a moment about whether Mandy could ask John to autograph a photo of 'Blake' and decided, for various reasons that she wouldn't do it.

Still, the question is, should John Whiting carry a stack of photos to provide autographed copies to his legions of fans. Or is Mandy's mum a one off?

Friday, December 03, 2010

You may be taking accounting too seriously if…

You may be taking accounting too seriously if…
  1. You can't wait to do your own tax return.
  2. You think the GAP store sells accounting standards.
  3. You think the CMA awards on TV relate to accounting (CMA is the Country Music Association).
  4. You cheer at the Oscars when they announce the accounting firm in charge of the envelopes.
  5. You read film credits to identify the name of the Production Accountant.
  6. You double underline your mother's name when preparing her death notice.
  7. You do an NPV calculation when you receive an indecent proposal (Of course this makes perfect sense if you are married).
  8. You do an NPV calculation before deciding not to have children.
  9. You can explain the difference between "downsizing", "right sizing", "re-engineering" and "firing people".
  10. You use the term "value added" with a straight face.
  11. Your Valentine's Day cards have bullet points.
  12. You schedule a meeting with your spouse to discuss the past year's performance.
  13. You aren't sure, but you think that you can claim depreciation on your human capital as a tax deduction.
  14. Your idea of "absolute terror" is an unbalanced T account.
  15. Your idea of "creativity" is a one-sided journal entry.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

500 not out

This is the 500th item posted on the blog. Think that should prove something about accountants having fun! ;-)

To 'celebrate' I offer a selection of the references to '500 accountants' courtesy of Google:

14 Jun 2010 ... The survey, carried out by the Institute of Certified Public Accountants in Ireland (CPA), questioned more than 500 accountants employed in ...

25 Nov 2009 ... Obviously the only way you could spend an evening in the company of 500 accountants is if someone else is paying, so I'm very grateful to ..

22 Mar 2004 ... But 83 per cent of the 500 accountants, IT managers, retail workers, builders and doctors surveyed were weak on Brit Art, the most talked ...

20 Jul 2007 ... Over 500 accountants in practice have already joined the scheme, which sets new benchmarks in the quality of the services and products ...

Since 1988 has acted for over 500 accountants and represented well over 300 before tribunals. Member of the Academy of Experts 1991. ...

5 Nov 2009 ... Sharon Ward, Managing Partner of Roffe Swayne commented 'John is one of only 500 Accountants nationally that have been awarded the Diploma ...

Nearly 500 accountants in the Gulf region already hold the ACA and are members of the ICAEW, but this will be the first time that the qualification will be ...

2 Jul 2010 ... More than 500 accountants turned up on Wednesday to learn about iXBRL-based Corporation Tax solutions in the slightly surreal surroundings ...

Questionnaires were sent across the USA to a random sample of 500 accountants who were members of the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) or the Institute ...

2 Nov 2009 ... Indeed, although a majority of the Fortune 500 accountants and Big Four auditors believe that the SEC should adopt IFRS, only 44% believe ...

22 May 2010 ... Some of the best are reproduced here, but just like 500 accountants on the bottom of the ocean, it's only a beginning. ...

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

David Gauke's schoolboy interest in taxation

The Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, David Gauke MP, introduced his speech at the ICAEW's recent Hardman memorial lecture with an amusing observation. He said:
My first experience of tax policy was, as a schoolboy, listening to Philip Hardman’s analyses of the Budgets of the 1980s.

Now I don’t want to give a false impression that, as a teenager, I had a precocious interest in tax matters, or that I rushed home from school for the sole purpose of watching a discussion about the tax changes contained in a Budget. I like to think I was pretty normal for my age. And that my interests were fairly typical for a teenage boy – cricket, football, girls and, of course, macroeconomics.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Top 10 Ways To Make Doing Your Taxes More Fun

As reported on the David Letterman US TV show

10. Do 'em naked.
9. Instead of a restaurant receipt, send them leftovers from the meal in question.
8. Frequent use of the word "eleventeen."
7. Claim a deduction, do a shot!
6. In "For Office Use Only" area write "Approved. Send refund immediately."
5. Apply a long-term capital gain rate of 20% to a mutual fund, do a shot!
4. Sneeze on forms.
3. Instead of using dated definition of income, use the proposed revised definition under section 643(B) in which conforming amendments are made to regulations affecting ordinary trusts, pooled income funds, charitable remainder trusts, trusts that qualify for the gift and estate tax marital deduction, and trusts that are exempt from generation-skipping transfer taxes -- that always puts a smile on my face.
2. Deduct $100 in medical expenses for all the paper cuts you suffered because tax form is 75 damn pages long!
1. Audit yourself, if you know what I mean.

I gave up on number 3!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Refusing to take a long term view?

During his speech at the ICAEW's Hardman lecture last night David Gauke, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury commented on the list of over 1,000 tax reliefs so far identified by the Office for Tax Simplification.
"Who'd have thought there were that many. And now we need to consider whether we need to keep them all."
David continued:
"Among those reliefs is Millenium Gift Aid. I'm all for taking a long term view, but do we really need a relief that won't be relevant again for another 990 years?!"

PriceWaterhouseCoopers is no more

They are now officially PwC.

Better than the abbreviation that some used when Price Waterhouse first merged with Coopers & Lybrand)

Poopers!

Friday, November 12, 2010

The best reason ever given to HMRC for late payment of tax

Long before HMRC introduced a 'time to pay' system through the Business Payment Support Service, Inspectors kept track of the more extreme excuses given for late payment.

My heart went out to the taxpayer with the best reason I ever heard. He asked for time to pay because:
"Just recently the drains were blocked and the bungalow was flooded, We had 6,000 gallons of effluent all over the inside and out.
Please consider all the things we've been through."

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Making the case for accountants to help with sustainability

This video is so well scripted it warrants a place on this blog, despite its serious message.
It features the ubiquitous Stephen Fry as the voice of the earth and encourages accountants to do more to aid sustainability.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Monday, November 08, 2010

When the taxman chases the recently departed...

A few weeks after Bernie died his sister, Susie, intercepted a letter sent to him by HMRC. It was a request for a tax return. Susie took the letter to her accountant who, after asking a few questions, suggested she reply as follows and pp the letter 'from Bernie (deceased)':
One of the advantages of having died is that there is no tax in heaven. It's a beautiful place. When I was alive I paid tax through the PAYE system and had not had any direct dealings with the taxman for many years. I can't say I'm that fussed about the outstanding return as I had no unearned income and left very little in the way of an inheritance for my sole living relative, my sister. Also, such matters seem so mundane since my recent demise. I might add that I have not yet met anyone from HMRC up here!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The client accountants love to hate

"Hello Accounts Lady"
"Nemi?" "I'm busy, what are you doing here?"
I just wanted to say 'Hi'

"And?"
"And that I've brought my accounts for 2009."
"Good"

"Here they are. Must dash!"

Nemi by Lise appears in The Metro. This cartoon published 26 October 2010

Friday, October 22, 2010

Remembering when the VAT office wouldn't deal with accountants

About 20 years ago the VAT office sent a serious letter to an accountant's deceased client. The accountant had deregistered the client from VAT after his death.

The VAT office letter said:
"We are sorry to learn of your recent demise. We have processed your request for deregistration but if at any time in the future you become liable to be VAT registered again, you should apply to this office for a new VAT number."
A favourite story of Charles Little from Keens Shay Keens Ltd as related by Neil Warren in his recent article in Taxation2 magazine.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Desperately seeking an attractive accountant

Spotted this twitter trail recently (posted by a young lady in Auckland, New Zealand)
Dear Universe. I would like some kind of super-good-looking young well-hung accountant boyfriend who will do my tax returns and gst for me.
Reply from a friend:
Does he have to be a good cook too or is that asking too much?
Response:
Well I can cook quite well so I'd be happy to do all the cooking if he did all the paperwork haha ;)
Then 30 minutes later:
I can't believe no accountants have asked me out yet! Michelle must have been joking about me being a guy magnet. How cruel! :-
Thank you @KristieAddison from the Transit of Venus Project

Monday, October 18, 2010

We asked 100 tax inspectors....

A survey asked 100 tax inspectors whether it annoyed them to give tax rebates.
Sadly 5 of the inspectors said that it did.
The other 95 couldn't answer the question as they didn't know what a rebate was!

Thanks to Neil Warren who related this story in a recent article in Taxation2 magazine.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The employment tax case of the year

This case involves a former accountancy and finance student who became a lapdancer at the Stringfellows club in London.

Nadine Quashie is now trying to pursue an unfair dismissal claim through the Employment Tribunal after being fired in December 2008 following allegations of drug use and dealing. The club claims that she was self-employed and that given her accountancy studies she would have know this.

As noted on AccountingWeb, "this case presents a classic challenge for the badges of employment tests and some messy tax implications for all sides".

Thursday, October 14, 2010

It's no longer the Big 4. Now there are five!

When I joined the world of tax after qualifying as a chartered accountant in 1982, my 'bible' was the Yellow Tax Handbook. For some time there was just the one volume. (Yes, I know there was an orange one too, but that had stuff in it I rarely needed back then).

By 2001 the Yellow book had expanded to two volumes. In 2007 it was four volumes and now, for the first time it's a five volume colossus.

Couldn't decide whether to post this here or to add some commentary on the TaxBuzz blog. Guess it's only the title that's vaguely amusing really. The ever growing quantity of tax law is no joke! (I commented on this a year ago: Twice as much tax law under Labour as in previous 18 years)

Friday, October 08, 2010

The irrelegious tax partner

A tax partner in a firm of chartered accountants has a heart attack at work, and is taken to hospital.
A couple of weeks later, he is sitting up in bed, having made the beginnings of a good recovery. The office’s senior partner goes to visit the patient in hospital. He finds the patient sitting up in bed reading The Bible.
“Good morning. How are you? What are you reading?”
“Hello, I’m reading the Bible.”
“Why? I didn’t know you were religious.”
“I’m not. I’m looking for loopholes.”

With thanks again to Clive Browne of Browne and Green accountants

Monday, October 04, 2010

Where does money come from?

This joke was apparently part of a cartoon that appeared in Accountancy many years ago.

A man, clearly to be viewed as an accountant, is standing in front of an ATM, withdrawing cash. With him are two boys.

On seeing the cash being withdrawn from the ATM, one boy turns to the other and says,
"There - I told you money doesn't grow on trees!"
With thanks to Clive Browne of Browne And Green accountants

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Assume nothing

One day in microeconomics, the professor was writing up the typical "underlying assumptions" in preparation to explain a new model.

Steve turned to his friend, Mike, and asked, "What would Economics be without assumptions?"

Mike thought for a moment, then replied, "Accounting."

Monday, September 20, 2010

Ken Dodd and the Inland Revenue

The comedian Ken Dodd, was prosecuted for tax evasion in 1989 as has been mentioned on this blog before, here and here. I'd love to find a clip of him talking about it in his act. For now though here are a couple of references to comments he makes about the experience.

He is known to introduce himself as a “failed accountant”. That, he explains, is simply to establish a rapport with the audience. “People today are all stressed out about home economics, and accountants are the current bogeymen. [Since when?]

Dodd is the butt of a lot of his material and repeated references are made to his love of money, his dislike of what he insists on calling the Inland Revenue and his past run-in with them. “They sent me a self-assessment form the other day. To me! I invented self-assessment.”

During the trial it was revealed that Dodd had very little money in his bank account. He did however have £336,000 in cash stashed in suitcases in his attic. When asked by the judge, "What does a hundred thousand pounds in a suitcase feel like?", Dodd made his now famous reply, "The notes are very light, M'Lord."

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

"Softworld - What's that?"

I proudly told a professional associate I will be speaking at Softworld again this year.
My friend looked confused. She asked:
"Why are you talking at the childrens' soft play area?"
Doh!
But I could see why that was her first thought. She's a new mum!

Softworld is the UK's only show dedicated to demonstrating accounting and finance solutions
Softworld Autumn 2010 takes place on 19-20 October at ExCeL London. I'm speaking on "How accountants can use and abuse social media"

Monday, September 06, 2010

The Artful TAX Dodgers - It's your pocket they're picking

Love the title of this new book by John W O'Sullivan, a former tax inspector. He spent twenty years working for HMRC investigating serious tax evasion and fraud throughout the West Midlands and Central Wales.

Synopsis:
Tax dodging: more popular than football, more subtle than chess, and played by millions. Some know the rules of the game, a few have some idea of the tactics, but what do they know of their faceless opponents in the distant computer centres and Special Compliance offices?

In this 'partial, prejudiced and jaundiced overview', a former Senior Inspector of Taxes presents a frank insider's view of a working life in taxes. With humour, relevance and a refreshing minimum of technical jargon, he casts an ironic eye on the professional activities and private passions of Dobson, one of the 'odious agents of the Income Tax'. Dobson's investigations uncover the professional fouls, dirty tricks and shady practices of those for whom tax dodging means anything from modest evasion to criminal fraud: both illegal, of limited effectiveness, and with serious consequences if detected.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The 5 worst things that happen to auditors

  1. Getting in early only to find the manager who's got all the answers is not in today
  2. Being asked to process a whole shed-load of material adjustments 1 hour before the audit is supposed to finish
  3. Realising that the 'we-could-finish-a-week-early-and-have-a-jolly' budget has disappeared into thin air
  4. Being shoved into a cold, pokey, little room in the basement with no windows, mobile phone reception, printer or copier, miles away from where all the people you need to speak to work and 12 floors from the nearest decent snacks vending machine
  5. Finding out that your favourite prestigious audit client has gone bust and your audit partner has gone missing.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Should tax advisers abide by a dress code?

A correspondent wrote to the FT's Dear Lucy's column in July about dress codes referencing a particularly 'tight dress' she had been advised not to wear.

In her reply, columnist Lucy Kellaway included this reference to female tax advisers:
"Depending on the country and line of business you are in, the dress may be OK – or not. It’s all pretty arbitrary. We tolerate less flesh from the person who is doing our tax returns than from the person who is cutting our hair. Stupid, really; but that’s the way it goes."
The picture I've attached to this piece is of Britt Savage from the Nashville band Twang Deluxe who shredded a pile of tax forms to make the dress you see her wearing!

Friday, August 20, 2010

ASBOs out TAXBOs in

Last week guidance was published explaining how HMRC intend to apply the law that now allows them to publish the details of tax evaders.

George Bull of Baker Tilly has christened the concept TAXBOs. He notes the irony of this as ASBOs are now on their way out.....

It could catch on - although I note that Barry Hutton in South Africa got their first with his accountancy practice, Taxbo Services which was established in 1988.

Driving away from the tax office...

A man was driving away from the tax office when all of a sudden he has to swerve to avoid a box falling off the lorry in front. Seconds later a policeman pulled him over for reckless driving. As the policeman starting writing the ticket he noticed the box was full of nails and tacks.

"I had to swerve or I'd have run over those and blown my tyres!" protested the driver.

"Ok", replied the officer, ripping up the ticket, "but I'm still bringing you in."

"What for?!" retorted the man.

"Tacks evasion", answered the policeman.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A P45 on the tube?

Saw this ad on a tube train the other day. As it's for office use I guess the target audience will all understand the reference to a P45.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Beancounters' overture

That was the headline for a small piece at the back of the Business section of yesterday's Sunday Times.
Apparently 18 "of PwC's finest" are competing in 'Don't stop believing' on 15 August 2010.
"For the uninitiated, this is a TV show on Channel Five where contestants sing. I hear the staffers wanted to incorporate PwC into their act's name but management weren't keen so they've gone for 'Elements'.

The group, formed of 14 women and 4 men wearing pinstripes and shirts with velcro fastenings, will perform a mix of 'Walk this way' and 'Nine to five'. I'm not supoosed to tell you what they'll do with the shirts but there may be a partial revelation of assets."
The piece is accompanied by a clever cartoon (by Pilbrow) showing a balding man watching the tv show. His angry wife is complaining: "You usually hate looking at accountants' figures."

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Recruitment ad for SAO?

Fall guy required for Simple Accounting Office (SAO) role.
Shy retiring accountant preferred.
Needs to be reasonable. Will be held to account.
Simple duties...
... Just sign one document per annum.

Monday, August 02, 2010

The naked accountant

Don't get excited - that's it.
That's the only photo on a one page website that then lists the (accounting) services available from the accountant in question.

I don't know (or want to know) if the photo is true to life!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Split Personality

I am indebted to Taxation magazine following a case of what modesty prevents me claiming as 'great minds' thinking alike.

We've all been imagining what could happen in due course when the Office of Tax Simplification presents its first report.....

Instead of getting into my own Tardis, I will simply report on extracts of the outcome that Taxation have anticiapted

Tax News: 10 October 2010

The Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) today issued its first report, on the simplification of small business taxation.

The OTS tax director John Whiting said that the timetable for producing the report had been tight but he thought they had done a good job.

The reaction from professional bodies was, however, mixed. The Chartered Institute of Taxation had some serious concerns.

‘This report shows a worrying lack of consistency,’ complained CIOT policy director John Whiting.

'I am saddened that the OTS Tax Director did not feel able to resist this pressure from the Treasury side.’

However, for the OTS, Whiting rejected the accusations.

‘Anyone who believes that I have been influenced unduly by Treasury ministers does not know me very well. If the CIOT’s policy director wants to discuss this with me, he knows where to find me.’

Meanwhile, the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group complained that the OTS was concentrating on the wrong problem.

They said that small businesses had advisers to help them find their way through the tax system, whereas many pensioners and other people on low incomes were struggling to understand complex tax calculations on their own.

‘The OTS needs to concentrate on the areas which really affect people,’ said LITRG spokesperson John Whiting. ‘That means simplifying the rules for those on lower incomes, including the rules for tax credits.’

Asked to respond to this attack, the OTS tax director became uncharacteristically irritated.

‘Look, everyone thinks this job is easy. If that LITRG spokesperson or the CIOT policy director think they could do it they’re welcome to try.’

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The 5 laws of accountancy

1. Trial balances don’t
2. Working Capital does not
3. Liquidity tends to run out
4. Return on investments never will
5. The bottom line is only the tip of the iceberg.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Twitter tax deductions for freelancers

Here is an extract from an Op-Art piece by Sam Potts in the New York Times. It seems to be an imagined tax form for the "marginally employed" and contains reference to various deductible expenses for freelancers:

The 'twitter deduction' starts with a note:
If you do not use twitter you do not qualify as a freelancer and may not use this form.

The Department of Treasury has determined that due to the huge amount of time that the freelance American workforce devote to tweeting, such activity shall be taxed according to the following formula [which I will not attempt to replicate here!]
The total deductions box at the foot of the page requires entries for, inter alia:
  • ordinary/necessary pyjamas (that satisfy the equivalent of UK's 'wholly and exclusively' rule
  • delayed adulthood penalty
  • time wasting allowance
  • your own personal navel blog
  • your food blog
  • your other food blog
  • tax tip webinars

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Personalised number plates for accountants

David Winch of Accounting Evidence is proud of his number plate that incorporates his qualification initials FCA.

An auditor is known to have had AUD 1T and a tax specialist had TAX 1NG

But my favourite is the ex-Inspector who had a number plate S99 TMA and who loved parking next to cars at conferences and other events, with VAT or TAX or CA on their plates just to give them an unsubtle reminder.

Any more stories or ideas for personalised number plates for accountants?

Monday, July 05, 2010

Tax cheats have less variation in hairstyles than benefit cheats

On Radio 4's The Now Show, Steve Punt and Hugh Dennis recently suggested (series 31 episode 3) that:
"To the British, defrauding the DSS is a crime; defrauding HMRC is more of a sport."
To highlight the difference in approach they referenced the two separate online forms at Direct.gov.uk
"The tax evasion hotline information report form and the 'report a benefit thief online form".
And they then compared aspects of the two forms:
"When grassing up the suspected villain, the tax fraud form asks you to provide approximate age, national insurance number and brief description of the person. The benefit fraud form asks you for: ethnic group, their build, their eye colour, eye wear, hair colour, hair type. It then gives you a separate menu of hair type options which include: afro, bald, dirty, dreadlocks, greasy, long, mohican, pony tail. All the classic hairstyles of the potentially criminal. And, brilliantly, 'wig'. That's right, if you're living next door to a toupee'd ethnic with glasses, get online now."

Friday, June 18, 2010

Fun accountant related tweets

Sometimes I wonder how do accountants stay awake at work. All the numbers are making me sleepy.
-dk

This girl says she went to an accounting seminar met interesting people including accountants. Really? How about marine biologists?
-fabianlawless

Between this weather, crazy clients and outlandish demands I'm ready to pack it in as a photographer and become an accountant like my dad :(
-meeners

Am now officially a grown up. I have an accountant and have just received tax advice.
-tshickle

Just recommended me a 'goth accountant'. If the tax man doesn't pay up I'll have him hexed.
-dividividv

Found a tiny scrap of paper which proves firstly I'm not going mad, and secondly I don't have to pay £650 to my old accountant!
-invisiblea

Ron Artest just thanked his psychiatrist. If it was me I would thank my florist, my proctologist and my tax accountant .. in that order.
-jperk1

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Seeking a raise

A student accountant in the US wrote to his senior partner asking for an increased salary.

Dear Bo$$

In thi$ life, we all need $ome things mo$t de$perately. I think you $hould be under$tanding of the need$ of u$ $tudent$ who have given $o much $upport including $weat and $ervice to the firm.

I am $ure you will gue$$ what I mean and re$pond $oon.

Your$ $incerely,

Norman

The next day, the senior partner sent this letter of reply:

Dear NOrman,

I kNOw you have been working very hard. NOwadays, NOthing much has changed. You must have NOticed that the firm is NOt doing NOticeably well at present.


NOw the newspapers are saying the world`s leading ecoNOmists are NOt sure if the United States may go into aNOther recession. After the NOvember presidential elections things may turn bad.

I have NOthing more to add NOw. You kNOw what I mean.

Yours truly,

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

An Ex Accountant

True story - An accountant in his sixties sells part of his practice. Keeps a few favoured clients and stops paying his Institute subs. He tells a friend that "My clients don't care whether I keep paying my subs etc and I don't need the pressure of prospective visits from the Practice Assurance team - or anyone else." The friend reminds him that he won't be able to describe himself as a Chartered Accountant any more or to give references that rely on that description.

A few weeks later the accountant meets his friend again. "I remembered what you said about references so last time I was asked for one I simply put "Ex-Chartered Accountant".

"How did your client respond?" asked the friend.

"Oh - I think he was pleased. He didn't say anything but I heard him later telling someone I was an EXcellent accountant."

Thursday, June 03, 2010

How easy will it be to keep E&Y apart from new neighbours PwC?

How neighbourly will E&Y and PwC be once the latter has fully occupied its new offices in More London - adjacent to the longer standing E&Y offices that have been there a while?

The Telegraph reported that "Blackout curtains beckoned" as both firms realise there will be scope for industrial espionage - at their closest point the two offices are only about 10m apart.
On the FCAblog I noted one insider commenting:
As an occupant of E&Y's premises, I can exclusively reveal that we're going to deploy psychological warfare against the new neighbours - firing lasers into their windows, blasting propaganda speeches and brass band music through loudspeakers 24 hours a day, and hanging a 9-storey high picture of our beneficently smiling global chairman on the side of our office. They won't hold out for long.
Nice one!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Sometimes we're not as clear as we might be....

Accountants frequently ask new clients to either bring their passport into the office or to supply certified copies. It's a requirement of the anti-money laundering regulations.

An accountant told me recently that a new client recently sent him a package. On opening it the accountant found a copy of the client's passport. What else? Another one. Same as the first. And another, and another. Indeed the package simply contained almost 3 dozen photocopies of the client's passport. None had been certified by a solicitor - or anyone.

The accountant called the client to acknowledge receipt of the package and to find out why he had sent so many copies - and not had any of them certified.

The client was pleased to hear the package had arrived safely.
"But I still don't know why you asked for 35 copies."

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Withheld tax awards (with good reason)

Awards not presented at Taxation's annual ceremony last week included:

Large firm
  • Longest name for a tax team in a large firm
  • Most widely dispersed tax 'team' in a large firm
Medium sized firm
  • Highest percentage lock-up in a medium sized firm
  • Most imaginative disclosure on a tax return by a medium sized firm
  • Longest meeting with HMRC in a medium sized firm
  • Most fee notes for tax advice given to one client in one year, in a medium sized firm
Small firm
  • Worst client toilet in a small firm
  • Best reasonable excuse for a late filed tax return by a small firm
Individual awards
  • Most obscure tax qualifications
  • Most pedantic tax author
  • Least qualified Treasury minister
  • Tax smartarse of the year
Any others?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Hugh Dennis at the Taxation awards

At last week's Taxation annual awards ceremony, comic host Hugh Dennis told us that the LexisNexis Taxation awards was the most ridiculously named Taxation awards he had ever been to. "Indeed the only taxation awards I've ever been to".

Sticking with the company name, LexisNexis, he suggested that perhaps it was "the teletubby that time forgot, or the teletubby who went to Monaco. Lala and Po didn't want to redomicile - they just went into forestry."

Amongst his other tax related one-liners were:
"Until yesterday I thought that IHT was something women used as contraception and that a P11D was a Diesel version of a P11"

"The only thing I do know, is that, in my experience, the Married man's allowance is... about once a month"
Ok - perhaps you had to be there.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

30 years on - What would Rip Van Winkle think?

Professor John Kay presented the Chartered Tax Advisers' Address earlier this week: "30 years of tax policy".

His talk was peppered with references to what Rip Van Winkle might think about key aspects of tax policy, after being absent from the UK tax policy environment for 30 years. He concluded that many of the key issues are much the same today as they were 30 years ago.

At the end of his talk however he generated much laughter from the sizeable audience by observing that:
"The final thing that Rip Van Winkle would do is to pick up the tax code to see if it were any shorter..."





Monday, May 17, 2010

The 'Death Tax' - a film, as seen by The Now Show

During recent debates about long term funding of the elderly, the Tories denounced Labour's plans for a compulsory levy, as a 'Death Tax'.

Steve Punt has suggested this sounded like 'a slightly dull horror film', and imagines how this might play out:
Zombies have returned from the grave; only one woman can stop them: Moira Stewart is: The Zombie Hunter, in "28 per cent later".
When attacked by a Zombie Moira is heard to say: "Don't forget, pay by January 31st or...I'll chop your head off"

The Zombie continues it's attack and we hear the sound of Moira's axe fulfilling her threat. She then warns us, ominously, "And remember, tax doesn't have to be... Axing!"
Broadcast on 2 April 2010 during The Now Show on Radio 4.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

The poetic audit report

We have audited the balance sheet
and say in our report
that cash is overstated,
the cashier being short.
The customer receivables
are very much past due,
and if there are some good ones
they are very, very few.

Inventories are outdated
and principally junk,
and the method of their pricing
is very largely bunk.
So, according to our figures
the undertaking's wrecked,
but, subject to these comments,
the balance sheet's correct.

Origin unknown. Reported on TaxLetter website

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

And you thought tax evasion was bad in the UK....

ATHENS — In the wealthy, northern suburbs of this city, where summer temperatures often hit the high 90s, just 324 residents checked the box on their tax returns admitting that they owned pools.

So tax investigators studied satellite photos of the area — a sprawling collection of expensive villas tucked behind tall gates — and came back with a decidedly different number: 16,974 pools.

Reported in New York Times on 1 May 2010. Full story here: Greek Wealth Is Everywhere but Tax Forms

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Details, details, details

Once upon a time there was a shepherd looking after his sheep on the side of a deserted road. Suddenly a brand new Porsche screeches to a halt. The driver, a man dressed in an Armani suit, Cerutti shoes, Ray-Ban sunglasses, TAG-Heuer wrist-watch, and a Pierre Cardin tie gets out and asks the shepherd, "If I can tell you how many sheep you have, will you give me one of them?"

The shepherd looks at the young man, then looks at the large flock of grazing sheep and replies, "Okay." The young man parks the car, connects his laptop to the mobile-fax, enters a NASA Website, scans the ground using his GPS, opens a database and 60 Excel tables filled with algorithms and pivot tables. He then prints out a 150-page report on his high-tech mini-printer, turns to the shepherd and says, "You have exactly 1,586 sheep."

The shepherd cheers, "That's correct, you can have your sheep." The
young man takes an animal and puts it in the back of his Porsche. The shepherd looks at him and asks, "If I guess your profession, will you return my animal to me?" The young man answers, "Yes,why not?"

The shepherd says, "You are an auditor."

"How did you know?" asks the young man.

"Very simple," answers the shepherd. "Firstly, you came here without being wanted. Secondly, you charged me a fee to tell me something I already knew, and thirdly, you don't understand anything about my business..."



".....now can I have my dog back?"

Monday, April 26, 2010

Poem: Got some cash that you're scared to flash?

Got some cash
that you're scared to flash?
It's hidden offshore in a mighty stash
and now you can't get to it,
because of the ash.



Think of declaring it?
It's not all that rash
It will save you from a nasty
Inland Revenue clash!

Taken from a newspaper advert placed recently by Accountants Cameron Baum.
We'll let them off the out of date reference to Inland Revenue as presumably HMRC would have prevented the poem from scanning!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Who knows where Dr Who is domiciled?

"I still think we need an episode where Doctor Who sorts out his tax affairs; we still have had no explanation of his means of support and I would imagine that HMRC would be very keen to get their hands on a completed statement of assets for a start.

Sight of his completed DOM1 form would also be interesting, and it’s no good Matt Smith arguing that the department doesn’t issue them anymore, he should have completed one when he was in his original William Hartnell guise.

I’m just trying to figure out whether he would be entitled to the age allowance or not, the good doctor seems to be getting younger (bit like policemen now I think of it and now I think of it are the two somehow connected, it's a police box after all)."

- Richard Curtis on the Taxation blog.

Edit - Peter Martin has since suggested that at least we now know what TARDIS stands for: Tax Avoidance - Residence & Domicile Issues Shafted!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The easy sum...

A businessman was interviewing applicants for the position of Divisional Manager. He devised a simple test to select the most suitable person for the job. He asked each applicant the question, "What is two and two"?

The first interviewee was a journalist. His answer was "twenty-two."

The second applicant was an engineer. He pulled out a calculator and showed the answer to be between 3.999999 and 4.000001.

The next person was a lawyer. He stated that in the case of Bodmin vs. HMIT in 1854, two and two was proven to be four.

The last applicant was an accountant. The business man asked him, "How much is two and two?" The accountant got up from his chair, went over to the door, closed it then came back and sat down. He leaned across the desk and said in a low voice, "How much do you want it to be?"

The accountant got the job.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Sex of a Hippopotamus - History of Taxes and Accounting

I don't very often reference books on this blog. The title of this one intrigued me: The Sex of a Hippopotamus: A Unique History of Taxes and Accounting

Apparently this US published book:
"weaves entertaining and educational stories culled from tax accounting since biblical times. It presents the never-before-told story of how American and world history have been profoundly influenced by taxes. Unique, quirky, interlaced with personal accounts, and always enlightening, these amazing tax stories have involved some of our best- known leaders and celebrities."
The book contains discussions about tax songs and videos, many of which have appeared on this blog. It also includes lesser know tax related stories including:
Oh, and it references accounting and pop culture myths such as the long hours (“in every 24 hours, there are three perfectly good eight-hour chargeable days”),

Monday, April 12, 2010

Friday, April 09, 2010

"How to Dodge the Taxman and Not Get Burned"

Apparently reported in the May 1980 issue of American Photographer:

"One fashion photographer we consulted found it helpful, when an IRS* auditor came to call, to have several scantily clad models running about the studio to facilitate ordinary, reasonable and clear thinking on the part of the auditor."
* US taxman

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The tax on spontaneity we all accept

During a light-hearted discussion about the price of train tickets, Jeremy Hardy said he often doesn't know what he's doing even one day ahead, let alone where he's going to want to go on a train.

Jeremy asked why people who are more prepared than him, and book train tickets in advance, pay less for their train tickets.

David Mitchell interpreted this as a complaint about what could be described as a tax on spontaneity.

From 6 November 2009 episode of the News Quiz on Radio 4