Monday, March 29, 2010

The accounting sheepdog

A farmer sends his accounting sheepdog, Spot, off to gather in his 8 sheep. On returning the farmer is astonished to find he now has 10 animals in his pen and asks the dog to explain.

"You asked me to round them up", barks Spot.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The auditing rash

"Doctor, Doctor. Every time I go on an audit I get covered in rashes. What could it be?"

- "Ticks."

Friday, March 19, 2010

An entertaining former Chairman of the Board of Inland Revenue

Sir Nick Montagu was the after dinner speaker at Digita's annual conference last night. He shared some wonderful anecdotes from his days as Chairman of the Board of Inland Revenue (1997-2004).

I bumped into him earlier in the evening and we shared a brief recollection of one of our conversations from my time as Chairman of the ICAEW Tax Faculty (which overlapped with his time at the Revenue). For reasons which will become apparent in a moment I as concerned as to how he would cope when the time came to present his talk.

In the event this is how he started (and he was deadly serious by the way):
" You will have heard plenty of speakers before; some with talent, some without. But never before one without a voice - laryngitis hit me this morning, hence the croak"
He bravely struggled on and entertained the audience despite being only able to do little more than whisper. Fortunately the amplification meant that all could hear him.

Another of his more self-deprecating remarks was that "If you need a cheap clown, look no further than a former Chairman of the Inland Revenue".

He told a number of stories which are probably best not recorded here for posterity. Among those that are safe to share include:

One aggrieved taxpayer, after making a substantial back payment of tax enrolled Nick in a nudist colony - presumably, in the taxpayer's mind as retribution for the Revenue taking the shirt off his back.

We also learned that some sad person had determined that an anagram of "Sir Nicholas Montagu, Chairman of the Inland Revenue" is "He'll receive a mountain of cash, nothing remains". I have resisted the temptation to check it really works!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Accountant, his chiropractor and the Emir

An accountant has been advising an eminent Emir on his domicle status. The Arab aristocrat complained of back pain so the accountant recommended a brilliant young chiropractor he knows and who then visits the Emir in his London hotel.

Although the Emir had been in agony the chiropractor's phenomenal skills at soothing angry vertebrae quickly brought some relief. And after a week of daily treatment the Emir was fully recovered.

The young chiropractor has no idea what fee to charge so he asks the accountant who recommended his to the Emir. "What should I do? Treat him for free as an honoured visitor, or would that be insulting? Should I ask him for my normal fee even though he can afford vastly more or should i just charge a round figure, say £2,000 which I know he can well afford?

The accountant says, "try this - send him your fee note but leave the amount blank. Simply write across the top of you bill the words: "The Emir is always fair".

Within a month the chiropractor received a cheque from the Emirate's exchequer or £50,000! He phoned the accountant at once to tell him the god news and to thank him.

The next day the young man received an invoice from the accountant for his advice. The amount had been left blank and across the top of the bill were the words: "The Chiropractor is always fair".

Adapted from an old Bob Monkhouse story included in his book: "Just say a few words"

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

An accountant is a person who :

An accountant is a person who :

  • displays deviant behaviour when it comes to numbers
  • can do tricky sums
  • experiences an inner peace in the knowledge that debits should always equal credits
  • knows the inner thrill of viewing a well structured Chart of Accounts
  • gasps at the majestic splendour of a Trial Balance
  • marvels at non-accounting colleagues who guiltlessly work from home or leave early on a Friday
  • frequently misses a trick when it comes to claiming expenses or receiving above-inflation pay rises
  • has made a lifetime vow never to take a holiday at month end
  • spends more evenings with the office cleaner than with their partner
  • sorts out all the mess

Friday, March 12, 2010

Collective noun for tax inspectors

A retired tax inspector once told me that the correct collective noun was a 'bunch of bastards'!

I've since been collating other suggestions:
  • A grab of tax inspectors
  • A menace...
  • A conniving...
  • A tithe...
  • A levy (levee)...
  • A Grabble...
  • An Inquisition....
  • A Bogy....
  • A Spectre....
  • A Digger.....
  • A ruination ....
  • An infliction ....
  • A calamity ....
  • A chill ....
  • A pack...
  • A frisson .....
  • A vexation ....
  • A ravishment ....
  • An infestation....

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

How many accountants does it take to change a light bulb?

How many accountants does it take to change a light bulb?

How many would you like it to be?

How many accountants does it take to change a light bulb?

What kind of answer did you have in mind?

How many accountants does it take to change a light bulb?

Hmmm....let me run a few numbers and get back to you....

How many accountants does it take to change a light bulb?

Two. One to change it and one to make sure it was done within budget

And lastly, my favourite:

How many accountants does it take to change a light bulb?

One, but he'll have 1500 of them to do on 31st January.

(This response was suggested by Adrian Higgs)

Monday, March 08, 2010

Taxpayer received 90 incorrect demands for £100 penalty

Pity poor Trevor Bell. HMRC sent him 90 letters, each charging £100 penalty.

Trevor, who owns Trevor Bell Construction Limited, recently changed the name of his business and had notified HMRC of the changes.

But each letter stated that 31-year-old was in arrears with the company and that he had to pay the tax for the sub contractors he employed.

As soon as Trevor alerted HMRC, they admitted the mistake and they said they would put it right.

Three days later Trevor received the apology, those of us who are familiar with the dealings of HMRC, might have both feared and expected.

He received a further 90 letters, all stating that he owed nothing!

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Satire: Angry taxpayers demand tutorial from Lord Ashcroft

The Daily Mash published a wonderful satirical article yesterday. Here are some highlights:
VOTERS across Britain have expressed outrage at Lord Ashcroft's ability to avoid more tax than them.

The billionaire Tory donor has used his non-domiciled status to lower his tax bill by an estimated £127 million leading to demands he conduct a mass tutorial at Wembley Stadium using short, simple words and an easy-to-follow Powerpoint presentation.

Julian Cook, an economist at Madeley-Finnegan, said: "Lord Ashcroft is one of around 60 million people in Britain who want to pay less tax.

"He does this by hiring an accountant who reduces his tax bill by as much as is legally possible, sends him an invoice and then everyone goes about their day. As you can see it's all incredibly evil."

Labour has seized on the revelations, insisting Lord Ashcroft's ability to make vast amounts of money and hang on to as much of it as he possibly can shows the Tories cannot be trusted with the nation's finances.

A spokesman said: "By failing to persuade the Telegraph and the Mail to go on and on and on about all the non-domiciled Labour donors who have done exactly the same thing, David Cameron has shown an appalling lack of judgement."

Meanwhile Nathan Muir, a Guardian reading Labour voter from Highate, insisted: "If I was a multi-millionaire I would pay all my tax at the full rate because I want to help build a fair and equal society where every child has a chance to be all they can be."
The Daily Mash is a satirical website covering national and international news with spoof stories, commentary and opinion. NB: "The website contains dirty words and occasional references to humping"

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

The dancing accountant

Worth watching right to the end, even beyond the post dance interaction between the accountant and the judges.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Tony Hancock - The income tax demand

Here's a link to a sound file of the half hour radio episode first aired over fifty years ago on 4 November 1956.

Tony Hancock receives a tax demand for £14 12s 3d re ten years' back tax. He refuses to pay as that represents 50% of his income over the period! (Even fifty years ago this would have been a tiny amount!) so he goes to see the Inspector - played by Kenneth Williams.

The inspector tells Hancock that he can't just pay the outstanding tax, they have to haggle a bit. He also says that most people ignore his letters. Once they've been ignored twice he ignores the taxpayers! He also recommends that Hancock should go to see a Chartered Accountant "you'll probably get away with it then!". Hancock takes his advice but the accountant turns out to be a crooked Sid James and mayhem ensues.

How to persuade the taxman your dog is a tax deductible business expense

Many years ago a publican had a meeting with a tax inspector in his pub. The publican had been claiming tax relief in respect the upkeep of ...