Thursday, December 22, 2011

Two HMRC related analogies that made me smile

  1. If HMRC ran a café it would drag passers-by in from the street, force them to cook their own lunch, then fine them for overcooking the eggs. Two weeks later, it would dispatch a leaflet explaining that cooking eggs is easy! But doubling the fine.

  2. If you're a wily corporation, you can play this malign incompetence to your advantage. If you are well-meaning but don't have a degree in fiscal management, never mind funds for an accountant, then you must make endless angst-ridden calls to Patricia in the HMRC office in Pyongyang. I don't know if you've ever tried phoning Patricia, but when she does pick up, she's rarely pleased to hear from you. Having read the new report from the Public Accounts Committee about HMRC's "systemic failures", however, I'm going to ask Patricia out to lunch, order the lobster, then whisper over the petits fours: how about we call it quits? Or perhaps she might view me more favourably if instead of owing a three-figure sum, I owed eight figures.
The above both formed part of Richard Godwin's Comment piece in The London Evening Standard on 21 December 2011.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Some fun tax and accountancy related tweets

Just written a cheque for my accountant, who has the longest address in Christendom. It's a good job biro ink is tax-deductible.
@adateal

Smaller than expected tax return further crunched by larger than expected bill from accountant. Bugger.
@GunslingerElite

Somehow, even in my most successful days as a history student, i always knew the world force me into becoming an accountant #stupid economy
@mrstephencamp

The accountant's #happydance.. finding an eligible $100 deduction. Ends when client gets mad for having to save more receipts
@iphoenixcpa

Every year it's the same. I'm doing my tax return and I can't find the stapler, staples or paper clips I need. I buy more. Next year; gone!
@wiggedy

Scary letter from the Inland Revenue I delayed opening, turned out to be a £50 tax rebate. Lesson to be learned in there somewhere.
@shanegriffiths

Client:Didn't think anyone would know. Me:U mean tax fraud? Being wrong year after year is bad pattern. Client:Could I go to jail? Me:Pack.
@ForensicCPA

This card from inland revenue isn't very jolly... or christmassy... or cardy... its more like a bill really. Think I'll stick it up anyway.
@MarkBrotherhood

Friday, December 02, 2011

Tax dispute of the week: Snakes in the office

What do you if you don't want to pay your tax bill?
Protests against the Indian tax system turned venomous this week when an angry snake charmer dumped three bags of around 40 poisonous snakes at officials' feet in his local tax office.

Whilst we might think is unusual the media reports of the story have such varying details that I'm wondering if it happened more than once.

Depending on which report you read there was one person or three. He/they dumped three bags in a tax office or a registry office in Basti or in Harraiya (both of which are in Northern India)





Wednesday, November 09, 2011

New form P45 published by the Indolent Revenue. Read it carefully.


Another spoof form from the clever and fun official looking (but fake) website for The department of social scrutiny which is promoting a book published by Ian Vince.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Another form from the Indolent Revenue: Transitional Irritation Allowance


Another spoof form from the clever and fun official looking (but fake) website The department of social scrutiny which is promoting a book published by Ian Vince.

Friday, October 28, 2011

What could the letters HMRC stand for?

In the UK we recognise 'HMRC' as standing for Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs - the body created by the merger of Inland Revenue and HM Customs and Excise in 2005.

What else might the letters represent?  Officially the answers are:
  • Health Management Research Center (University of Michigan) 
  • Human Mobility Research Centre (Queen’s University and Kingston General Hospital partnership; Ontario, Canada) 
  • Helicopter Multi-Role Computer 
  • Hierarchical Maximal Ratio Combining 
  • His Majesty's Royal Communications (Jordan)
But let's be more inventive:

  • Help Me Recover Cash
  • How Might Rhianna Cover-up?
  • Hold My Rubber Chicken
I fear I could go on for a while but instead let me invite others to suggest their own. Give it a go. Could be fun.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Another form from the Indolent Revenue: Your money or your life


Another spoof form from the clever and fun official looking (but fake) website The department of social scrutiny which is promoting a book published by Ian Vince.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The odd names people put on tax forms....


From the Times Diary page on Tuesday 18th October. 
Thanks to Andy Tall for bringing it to my attention.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Taxman's form: Application for mercy




Original is on the clever and fun official looking (but fake) website promoting a book published by Ian Vince:
 The Department of Social Scrutiny

Friday, September 23, 2011

And you thought ICAEW was focused on accountancy....


This sign in the Gents at One Moorgate Place (Chartered Accountants Hall) always amuses me.  It seems to suggest that the ICAEW is 'bringing you energy efficient hand drying'.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Who is to blame for problems with the tax authorities?

Four tax advisers were bewailing the deterioration in the relationship between the tax authorities and taxpayers.

They thought that they would list the four main causes of the current problems. Their conclusions:


H, M, R and C.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Obama sings: Every cent you make, I'll be taxing you...

An impressionist, Paul Shanklin, allows us to hear President Obama singing a variation of the Classic Police song

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Institute of Chartered Accountants World Without Numbers

This seems to be a 30 second advert showing the importance of numbers and therefore of Chartered Accountants. Not sure i could see the link though. Can you?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Hell's Grannies are to blame for the riots....

The following is an extract from an old Mython Python sketch about "Hell's Grannies":

Voice Over: Favourite targets for the old ladies are telephone kiosks.
Film of grannies carrying off a telephone kiosk; then painting slogans on a wall.

Policeman (coming up to them): Well come on, come on, off with you. Clear out, come on get out of it. (they clear off, he turns to camera) We have a lot of trouble with these oldies. Pension day's the worst - they go mad. As soon as they get their hands on their money they blow it all on milk, bread, tea, tin of meat for the cat.

Cut to cinema.

Cinema Manager: Yes, well of course they come here for the two o'clock matinee, all the old bags out in there, especially if it's something like 'The Sound of Music'. We get seats ripped up, hearing aids broken, all that sort of thing.

A policeman hustles two grannies out of the cinema.
Cut to reporter walking along street.


Reporter: The whole problem of these senile delinquents lies in their complete rejection of the values of contemporary society. They've seen their children grow up and become accountants, stockbrokers and even sociologists, and they begin to wonder if it is all really...(disappears downwards rapidly) arggh!

Shot of two grannies replacing manhole cover.

The extract above is taken with credit from the full transcript of Episode Eight: 'Full Frontal Nudity' (The title is derived from a line spoken in the episode by someone described as a Chartered Accountant: "I would only perform in a scene in which there was full frontal nudity". After which the ubiquitous Colonel announces that he has noticed a tendency for this programme to get rather silly.....)

Monday, August 08, 2011

Complaints, complaints, complaints

We recently complained to HMRC about a repayment they were taking months to process.

We received a reply from one of their Complaints people saying that due to the volume of complaints they were dealing with, they would not be able to deal with our complaint for at least 35 days.

Needless to say, we complained about this...
True story relayed by an accountant on AccountingWeb. Can anyone beat that?

Friday, August 05, 2011

VAT a daft idea for a builder taking cash in hand

Years ago, I lived literally a block down the road from the local VAT office. I got some quotes for a new driveway, and the best price by far was from a well-known local firm who gave me a double discount: one for paying cash (nudge nudge, wink wink, mind the Vat, know what I mean guv'nor), and one for putting their sign up to let the world know who did the work. Including, I suppose, the local VAT-man!
Story related by Andrew Horder

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Management Accountant performs at the Edinburgh Fringe



Award-winning comedian and management accountant Tom Goodliffe spent years in a job he didn’t like, to buy things he didn’t need to impress friends he didn’t have.

Rapidly approaching 30, he had spent the last few years thinking too much and living too little. Now, Tom Goodliffe, star of the Pleasance Comedy Reserve 2010, presents his debut solo show about life, love and living the dream. Expect spreadsheets.
The show will be on every day (except for Monday 15th) at 3.45pm at Cabaret Voltaire – The Speakeasy in Edinburgh. Tickets are a fiver and can be bought here.

Monday, August 01, 2011

AA Gill perpetuates the myth about accountants

"The problem with maths on TV is the same as the problem with maths off TV. It's boring. Maths is the reason we have accountants, who in turn, are difficult and boring."
I hope this blog goes some small way to evidence that such stereotyping is unfair.

From AA Gill's television column in the Sunday Times Culture section yesterday (p17)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Who gets the Minimum Wage?

Andy Atkins is an elderly accountant operating from offices above a shop in a small town. One day he received a letter from HMRC, stating that they suspected he was not paying his employees the National Minimum Wage and they would send an inspector to interview them. On the appointed day, the inspector turned up.

"Tell me about your staff," he asked Andy.

"Well," said Andy, "there's my accounting trainee, I pay him £240 a week, and cover the costs of his training. Then there's my PA. She gets £190 a week, along with free board and lodging in the flat above the office. There's also the half-wit. He works a 16 hour day, does 90% of the work, earns about £25 a week, along with a bottle of whisky, and as a special treat occasionally gets to sleep with my wife."

"That's disgraceful" said the inspector, “I need to interview the half-wit."

"That'll be me then," said Andy.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Fifteen funny books for accountants

  1. Internal Control Weaknesses by Kermit Fraud
  2. Authorisation Limits by Mustapha Siggnatjeur
  3. How Not To Panic At Year End by Wendy Orditors-Cumming
  4. Cash Control for Dummies by Hans Intils
  5. Rough Guide to Accounting by Major Control-Weakness
  6. Double Entry Delights by General Ledgers
  7. Financial Planning for Beginners by Bud Jett
  8. Monthly Reporting by Anna Litticle
  9. Excel Analysis by Rosa Dayter
  10. The Notes to the Accounts by Hugh Kairs
  11. Capital Tax Planning by Muvinov Sure
  12. Insolvency by Justin Casey-Folds
  13. The Missing VAT Trader by Cara Zell
  14. Big Bonus by Laura Cash
  15. Unexplained Difference by Frank D Scussions
With due credit to Graham Thomas-Widger and Karen Watson who posted these (and a few others I didn't get) on AccountingWeb

Monday, July 25, 2011

An accountant with CSE Grade one Woodwork

At Art in Action I started chatting with Bruce Aitken who makes amazing and stylish wooden clocks.

It transpired he used to be a design and technology (DT) teacher. I admitted that I had failed DT at school but explained I did get a CSE grade 1 in Woodwork. "I went on to qualify as an accountant" I added "but no one seemed very interested in my CSE grade 1 in Woodwork."

Bruce's instinctive response made me smile: "Though you could have made a beautiful abacus" he said.

I think the time may have passed.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

I'm an audit. I'm a tax return. Apple ad parody

Not just a parody though. This is also a neat way that one firm highlighted the cross-selling opportunities available to staff. I just wish they hadn't made the tax guy out to be the boring one!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

The Income Tax demand - Beryl Reid and Hugh Paddick

This wonderful sketch dates back to 1968. Have attitudes changed much in the meantime?

Friday, July 01, 2011

HMRC could pilot RTI on its own payroll

Had a wicked thought last night. Think it belongs on this blog as it made me smile!

HMRC have said that they intend to run a pilot exercise to collate Real Time Information from volunteer employers in April 2012. Mandatory use of RTI for large employers will start from April 2013.

How about HMRC itself volunteers for the pilot re its own payroll? And taking that a stage further, how about if MPs were also included in this experiment?!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Are marketers smarter than accountants?

Three marketers and three accountants are travelling by train to a conference. At the station, the three accountants each buy tickets and watch as the three marketers buy only a single ticket.

"How are three people going to travel on only one ticket?" asks an accountant.
"Watch and you'll see," answers a marketer.

They all board the train. The accountants take their respective seats but all three marketers cram into a restroom and close the door behind them. Shortly after the train has departed, the conductor comes around collecting tickets. He knocks on the restroom door and says, "Ticket, please." The door opens just a crack and a single arm emerges with a ticket in hand. The conductor takes it and moves on.

The accountants saw this and agreed it was quite a clever idea. So after the conference, the accountants decided to copy the marketers on the return trip and save some money (being clever with money, and all that).

When they get to the station, they buy a single ticket for the return trip. To their astonishment, the marketers don't buy a ticket at all.

"How are you going to travel without a ticket?" says one perplexed accountant. "Watch and you'll see," answers a marketer.

When they board the train, the three accountants cram into a restroom and the three marketers cram into another one nearby. The train departs. Shortly afterward, one of the marketers leaves his restroom and walks over to the restroom where the accountants are hiding.

He knocks on the door and says, "Ticket, please."

(I'm sure I've heard this joke before but it's not been on the blog, so thanks to Brian Cruickshank for sending it in).

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I blame the Two Ronnies and not Monty Python

For years accountants have blamed an infamous Monty Python Sketch for suggesting accountants are boring. It seems The Two Ronnies were at it too....

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

How did Mercia start?

Mercia is one of the UK’s largest providers of training and support services to the accountancy profession. John Welsford, who was MD until June 2007 joined the company as its sole employee in 1982.

At the recent Mercia Partners' conference John was asked how he started Mercia. He explained that he hadn’t. Four firms of accountants had got together and employed John to go down to London to attend CPD conferences. In those days very few CPD courses took place around the UK. John was then required to come back ‘oop north’ to run the same courses for the founding firms' staff. They each paid 25% of his fees.

I wonder if anyone is doing much the same thing today?

Monday, June 13, 2011

How long do partners work?

Staff in accountancy firms aspire to be partners. One of the attractions is the ability to only work part days and to be your own boss. After all, you get to choose which 12 hours a day to work.

David Oliver, Insight Marketing, at Mercia Partners’ Conference.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

For some people IFRS could be a good thing

(This cartoon first appeared in Taking Stock on AccountancyAge.com on 3 June 2011 under the heading: Colin: a tricky financial question)

Monday, June 06, 2011

How to simplify the PAYE system

I'm told that a Revenue official who wishes to remain anonymous has identified two key changes that would simplify our PAYE system and avoid most problems:
  1. Stop anyone from having more than one job at a time; and
  2. Only allow people to change jobs at midnight on 5 April each year.
No - I don't think they were serious.

Do you have any other ideas in a similar vein?

Friday, June 03, 2011

What does this acronym stand for? SCAM

The Scottish Institute of Chartered Accountants (ICAS) produce a computer-based audit training teaching resource. For reasons I cannot imagine it goes by the acronym SCAM.
It's accessible from the website www.scam-plc.co.uk (from where I have copied this image).

An example of Scottish Chartered Accountant Madness?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Top tax names camp it for charity

If you'd like to see some top tax names camping it up in the name of charity you'll enjoy this video produced in support of TaxAid. It stars Tax Barristers Penny Hamilton and Michael Flesch QC alongside Chris Tailby CBE, Robert Maas and Peter Wyman. Did I miss anyone?

It starts as a cowboy parody with Penny at the Bar aiming to help a cash trader who has the Revenue after him. Loved the subtitles that 'clarify' what she's really saying! He then goes off to see the 3 wise men who are all reading Taxation magazine. They have a different approach - each of which parodies their real-life approach to tax advice. But the hapless trader can't afford to pay them so they recommend TaxAid. And the final piece to camera comes from Peter Wyman stepping out of a cupboard. It's all a bit surreal actually!

Friday, May 27, 2011

After the Taxation awards last night....

I was in a cab and the driver asked me where I'd been.

When I told him he has astonished that such an awards ceremony could exist.

He asked me whether the awards included: Who's paid most tax and Who has avoided most tax!

Sean Locke at the Taxation awards

Sean Locke was the comic turn before the awards were announced last night. Before moving into his more mainstream material he shared some topical tax related thoughts including:
This is the 11th year of the awards - if you don't count the 3 years we didn't declare.

Good to see HMRC have a table here tonight. It's easy to see which one it is as all the waiters are wearing balaclavas.

I told some friends I'd got this gig and they reckoned tax advisers would all be boring. But you're not. I've met a few tonight. One even showed me his favourite receipts.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Apprentice - Edward the accountantist

Edward Hunter was the first candidate 'fired' in the latest series of The Apprentice. As he left the Boardroom he was advised by Lord Sugar to remember: "There's no shame in being an accountant."

Edward himself made a number of related observations about his profession including:
  • I'm the wheeler dealer who accidentally became a financial professional.
  • I was trained at one of the biggest accountancy firms (PWC); but I don't fit the mould.
  • I don't need to show off that I can work out margins; I'm an accountant.
  • I'm mildly accountantist (anti accountants)
  • Whenever I'm introduced to anyone and I want to stop the conversation, I just say, 'I'm an accountant'.
  • I think every accountant will look at me and think, 'that's how I feel' (negative about accountancy).
Not a great advert for the profession.
(I posted a link to his audition video in a separate blog post here)

"There's no shame in being an accountant" Edward

This is 'The Apprentice' audition video of a self-confessed "wheeler-dealer" chartered accountant.
Did his performance on the first episode of The Apprentice 2011 have a positive or negative impact on how the public perceive Chartered Accountants?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

No VAT increase on lapdances

Sign seen outside a 'gentlemens' club on Piccadilly Circus, London


Given that VAT went up 4 months ago it would seem that the world of lapdancing is struggling to attract punters....

Thursday, April 28, 2011

5 crazy claims for tax deductions from business profits

1 - Cost of hiring an arsonist – NO
A man with a failing furniture business decided to hire someone to burn it down. The store-owner's plan was not only to collect the $500,000 insurance money, but also to deduct the $10,000 expenses of hiring the arsonist! Not a smart man.

2 - Fake Boobs - YES
A stripper going by the name of CHESTY LOVE used her hard-earned savings to boost the size of her boobs, to the eye-popping size of 56-FF. She figured it would get her more tips. And the write-off was allowed, being considered a stage prop essential to her act.

3 - Cat food - YES
Junkyard owners set out bowls of pet food nightly to attract wild cats. The wild cats also took care of their nasty snake and rat problem, making the junkyard safer for customers and providing a useful business service. Yep, you guessed it…the pet food is a business expense, it was allowed.

4 - Body Oil - YES
If you’re a regular Joe, body oil is a once in a blue-moon splurge. Maybe something to spice up an evening with your partner, but certainly not a write-off. However, if you’re a pro bodybuilder and need gallons of body oil to make your muscles glisten, then it is a genuine tax write-off. Just don’t turn up at a client meeting covered in oil, wearing nothing but a thong and a smile.

5 - A ‘Playmate' Party - YES!
The owner of a nightclub promotions firm decided that a regular party wasn’t good enough for his clients. So, he brought in a bunch of scantily clad “bunnies” as decoration. The tax man said sure, it’s a valid expense. Whether or not pictures of the bunnies were attached to the return is unknown at this time.

Taken from a US list of 20 Amazing tax deductions

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Are accountants legumaticians or beancounters?

Legumaticians seems to be a made up word that acts as a clever synonym for 'bean counter'. What's the origin of that phrase which is commonly used as a derogatory term for an accountant?

The most obvious answer might be a reference to those who counted the beads (or beans) on an abacus. However this is not borne out by an internet search.

According to the August 11, 2000 issue of the Word detective:
"Bean counter" has an interesting history. It seems to have first appeared in the mid-1970s in the U.S., and its original use was simply as a vivid synonym for "accountant," especially one who brooked no nonsense. Its first known occurrence in print was in a 1975 Forbes magazine article that referred to "a smart, tightfisted and austere 'bean counter' accountant from rural Kentucky," though we can assume the quotation marks meant the writer had heard the term in use before the date of the article. In any case, the allusion is clearly to an accountant so dedicated to detail that he or she counts everything, down to the last small, but still important, bean.

By the 1980s, however, most appearances of "bean counter" in the media were taking on a derogatory tone, and "bean counter" is now frequently used to mean a nitpicker who, lost in the numbers, fails to see the "big picture."
The 'wiseGEEK' site has a more graphic analysis that includes:
While an accountant might be asked to perform a thorough inventory of his or her company's assets, only a bean counter would literally count the number of beans contained in the company kitchen's pantry. A financial bean counter may also scrutinize each department's budget to find any form of potential waste, no matter how insignificant or nominal it appears to be.
It is possible that the description was inspired by overzealous kitchen inventory takers who insisted on counting every bean in a bag or every potato in a sack. The act of counting every bean to the exclusion of more important duties would be viewed by many as the ultimate act of micromanagement. Perhaps the term "bean counter" entered the popular vernacular through the commercial or military food industries, where strict inventory controls are common.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Music for accountants....

In a post on AccountingWeb, Accountant Richard Joseph claims to have the original scripts for the Motown version of an accountants' musical which was was mooted in the seventies, and the lead song turned out to be a big hit for Marvin Gaye, - "I Audit Through the Grapevine".

Richard continues:
But, of course, who else but the Beatles would have been the orginators of the accountants musical theme, when they came out with their classic tribute to the audit profession in 1965 with "Tick it to Ride".
Rumours are still going about of an album of songs to be released in honour of our profession by Gary Barlow, of the internationally renowned boy-band "Tick That". But I haven't actually heard any of them yet.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Two tax quotes

"What Mae West said about sex is true about taxes. All tax cuts are good tax cuts; even bad tax cuts are good tax cuts."
-- Grover Norquist

"There's nothing wrong with the younger generation that becoming taxpayers won't cure."
-- Dan Bennett

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

An accountant goes to the doctor....

"Doctor, doctor, I've taken the medicine you prescribed but it's not working. What should I do?"
"Try using your calculator."
"How will that help?"
"I'm not sure, but it's something you can count on".

Monday, April 04, 2011

The patient who always knocks twice

A man knocks on the door of his doctor's surgery and walks in.
"Hello, doctor. Please help. I just don't know what's wrong with me. Goodbye." With that he turns around and walks out.

30 seconds later he is back. "Hello again, doctor. Please help. I just don't know what's wrong with me."

The Doctor looks up from his desk and says: "Mmm. I think you have a serious case of double entry."

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Imagine Imagine reimagined as a song about tax!

Sung by Steve Theaker, tax partner at South Wales accountancy firm UHY Peacheys, to the tune (and using some of the words) of the John Lennon classic: Imagine.

VERY well done. Here's just one of the clever lines: "Imagine no accountancy fees, That's going a bit too far, but here at UHY Peacheys you know exactly where you are."

Four riddles about accountants

What disease kills more accountants than any other?
- TB.

What do you call an accountant or who can't account?
- An ant.

What do cannibal accountants do at their Office Christmas Dinner?
- Toast their clients.

What do you call a Trial Balance that doesn't balance?
- A late night.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What a clever sheep dog

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.

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

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A boost for "prudent, middle class accountants"

From Andrew Gimson's sketch in The Telegraph today - re yesterday's Budget.
This Budget was not the work of an evil, upper-class sex maniac, but of a prudent, middle-class accountant who has gone through the nation’s books and reached some sober conclusions about what can be done to get us back on an even keel. As Mr Osborne himself admitted in a rare moment of candour: “This is a Budget built on sound money.”
Suggests to me that he sees being "prudent, middle class accountants" as a good thing. Given the alternative anyway....

The quote above is preceded in the paper by an apology:
We would like to apologise to Mr Osborne for the words that follow. It is unkind to reveal someone’s guilty secret, but this column cannot shrink from telling the truth about the Chancellor.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Thursday, March 03, 2011

OTS went boldly where no taxman has gone before

Direct quotes from Michael Jack's Forward in the first report of the Office for Tax Simplification.
“To boldly go where no man has gone before” was the proud boast of the crew of Star Trek’s USS Enterprise. I think that this phrase must have been in the Chancellor’s mind when, last July, he set us off on our voyage of discovery into the world of tax reliefs and allowances.

During our voyage of discovery (which has lasted a mere five months rather than the five years of USS Enterprise) we found...


Jimmy Carr 10 o'clock live : Barclays 1% tax scheme

'Strong' language warning!


NB: As regular readers of my Tax-Buzz blog will know, I'm no fan of fancy tax schemes, but I do also try to be objective. In this regard I recently wrote a piece: Barclays paid 1% in apples of tax on its pears of profits. In it I debunked the 1% rate that is now referenced in this comedy clip.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

How to decide which receipts are important..

At an early point in her career Sandy Toksvig apparently had a temping job in the accounts department for Wandsworth sewer. She talked about this on Radio 4's The News Quiz on 11 February 2011 and explained:
"It was my job to work out which receipts were important and which were not."
And then she explained how she fulfilled her responsibility:
"All I did was put one in ten in the bin."



Friday, February 18, 2011

The last 10 pence

A father walks into a restaurant with his young son..
He gives the young boy three 10p coins to play with to keep him occupied.

Suddenly, the boy starts choking and going blue in the face....
The father realises the boy has swallowed the coins and starts slapping him on the back..

The boy coughs up 2 of the 10p's but is still choking.
Looking at his son, the father is panicking, shouting for help.

A well dressed, attractive, and serious looking woman, in a blue business suit is sitting at a coffee bar reading a newspaper and sipping a cup of coffee. At the sound of the commotion, she looks up, puts her coffee cup down, neatly folds the newspaper, places it on the counter, gets up from her seat and makes her way, unhurried, across the restaurant.

Reaching the boy, the woman carefully pulls down his pants; takes hold of the boy's testicles and starts to squeeze and twist, gently at first and then ever so firmly... tighter and tighter !!!
After a few seconds the boy convulses violently and coughs up the last of the 10ps, which the woman deftly catches in her free hand.

Releasing the boy's testicles, the woman hands the coin to the father and walks back to her seat at the coffee bar without saying a word.

As soon as he is sure that his son has suffered no ill effects, the father rushes over to the woman and starts thanking her saying, "I've never seen anybody do anything like that before, it was fantastic. Are you a doctor? "


'No,' the woman replied.
I'm a tax inspector at HMRC...'

My thanks to Alan Phillips of Phillips Associates for passing this on.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Ogden Nash on economics and tax

"Abracadabra, thus we learn the more you create, the less you earn. The less you earn, the more you're given,
the less you lead, the more you're driven,
the more destroyed, the more they feed,
the more you pay, the more they need,
the more you earn, the less you keep,
And now I lay me down to sleep.
I pray the Lord my soul to take,
if the tax-collector hasn't got it before I wake."

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Topical tax tweets - Max 140 characters

Just completed online tax return, have overpaid by 5 pence - heartwarming feeling that I am helping solve the government deficit
@sandywalkington

About to disprove the slogan "tax doesn't have to be taxing"... Now where are all those things I put in a safe place in may 2009
@marklangdon

Back to the tax return. Apologies in advance for any shouting, screaming, swearing and throwing stuff.
@hmhunt

Me: "You must be run off your feet this time of year." Girl in HMRC Tax Helpline call centre: "Ohh, it's enough to drive you to drink."
@BigglesZX

Two bills from HMRC today, both demanding I pay different amounts. I wanted to spend all day on hold tho, so it's cool. STAB. STAB. STAB.
@PoppyD

I spoke to a lovely lady from HMRC today, its always lovley when someone tells you to put a bill in the bin though!
@CandyHandfuls

Been on the phone to HMRC for 40 minutes, great phone call and really productive - ive listened to every song on their waiting album list
@mattadams86

I haven't seen a single "Tax doesn't have to be taxing" ad this year (thankfully). Are HMRC cutting back on marketing?
@MikeOrmond

Great to no longer feel pang of guilt when I drive past Moira's face on billboards warning of 31 Jan tax return deadline. Filed mine last wk
@stevelivingston

With thanks to Daniel from Taxation magazine for flagging these.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Loot - with Jason Donovan as a forensic accountant

Broadcast only in Australia in 2004, Loot was set in:
"the thrilling and exciting world of chartered accountancy".
Jason Donovan played the lead character, Jon Peregrine, who ran a Forensic Accountancy practice called Peregrine Forensics. He had a silent and slightly eccentric partner, Charles Highsmith who was a retired Partner from a large accounting firm.

In the pilot Jon's business was just starting off and they had very little work. Before setting up on his own, Jon used to work for one of the big accounting firms, GV White. His soon-to-be ex-wife, Cynthia Allencontinued to work for them in insolvency. Loot appeared onscreen in Australia apparently but not on British screens - so far as I know.

Loot was created by Allen Blewitt, chief executive of ACCA, the international accountancy body. It was described as "a slick new TV drama that, for once, doesn't portray accountants as timid, spineless and deathly tedious".

One of the plot lines has been described as follows:
Peregrine takes it personally when a dodgy initial public offering catches out thousands of small investors and triggers the suicide of his brother-in-law. Together with his genius computer hacking assistant, he won't rest until he finds out who is responsible.

With no Swiss bank account safe, no tax haven secure, tracking down that kind of money can buy you some seriously powerful enemies. And it's not as if Peregrine had a lot of friends to start with. At the same time, he is distracted by another case: a high-profile underworld business figure is missing and Peregrine has been hired by his ex-wife Cynthia to find him ...
Did ANYONE see this?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Accountants Pie (song parody)

A.P.B Pie
(To be sung to the tune of American Pie - with apologies to Don McLean, but it fits really well)

A long long time ago, I can still remember
When my job used to make me smile
And I knew I could have a bash at saving my clients loads of cash
And maybe we'd be happy for a while
But regulation made me shiver, with every standard they'd deliver
Bad news on the doorstep, I couldn't take one more step
I can't remember if I cried when I saw I.S.A three one five
But something touched me deep inside the day that Enron died

So why why oh A.P.B why?
Do the standards get longer when you clarify?
Just one more schedule on an audit file
Oh that'll be the day that I die, that'll be the day that I die

Hey do you remember A.T.C?, P.E 1 and an S.S.A.P?
but nostalgia’s not what it used to be
And do you remember tick and bash, selecting samples, counting cash
And programmes that came from you and me
I saw you playing cricket with Jim with a ruler, a rubber and a rubbish bin
Awful coffee in a plastic cup, five pints at lunchtime down the pub
Oh this was a job we all could hack with a plastic briefcase and an audit pack
We did it all without looking back
Up to the day that Enron died

So why why oh A.P.B why?
Do the standards get longer when you clarify?
Just one more schedule on an audit file
Oh that'll be the day that I die, that'll be the day that I die

I met a girl who sang the blues, so I asked her for some happy news
But she just smiled and turned away
And I went down to the stationery store, where I’d stolen tipex long before
But the man said no 7 column here today
And in the office the R.I dreamed of full recovery on an audit fee
When there was no regulator but he had a texas calculator
And three things we treat with reverence, integrity, judgement and common sense
Shut down their laptops and hopped over the fence the day that Enron died

So why why oh A.P.B why?
Do the standards get longer when you clarify?
Just one more schedule on an audit file
Oh that'll be the day that I die, that'll be the day that I die

With all credit/blame to Nigel Hughes

Monday, January 17, 2011

Who predicted that then?

The Romanian government has passed a law that will tax the income of witches, fortune tellers, and astrologers.

The witches have attempted to cast a spell on the president of Romania, throwing the poisonous plant mandrake into the Danube River, AP reported. According to the BBC, the witches also used cat feces and a dead dog in the spellcrafting mix.

Last year Associated Press reported that Romanian senators rejected a proposal to tax witches and fortune tellers. The suggestion was that they were scared of hearing those feared words:
Abracadabra, we'll turn all of you into toads!
At that time the draft law would have required witches and fortune tellers to produce receipts, and would also have held them liable for wrong predictions!

Magic and superstition in Romania are taken very seriously. The president and his aides wear purple on Thursdays, allegedly to ward off evil spirits.

Friday, January 07, 2011

The prefect cake for accountants in January


Saw a ref to this cake posted on twitter. Seems ideal for accountants with birthdays in January!
Enjoy a virtual slice!

Comes from the The Baked In Caked Out Kitchen (@bakedincakedout)

Thursday, January 06, 2011

We Are Accountants, my friend

We Are Accountants
(An accounting anthem to be sung to the melody of the Queen smash hit)

I've paid my subs
Time after time
I've done my CPD
Filed accounts on time

And material errors
I've made a few
I've had my share of journals kicked in my face
But I've come through

We are accountants, my friends
And we'll keep on counting - 'til month end
We are accountants -
We are accountants
No time for lunch breaks
'Cause we are accountants - of the world -

I've taken work home
Had late conference calls -
You brought me useful provisions - and the documentation that goes with them -
I thank you all -

But it's been no box of Roses
No mid-month snooze
I consider it a challenge before that large audit case -
And I ain't gonna lose -

We are accountants, my friends
And we'll keep on counting - 'til month end
We are accountants -
We are accountants
No time for lunch break
'Cause we are accountants - of the world -

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