Monday, May 28, 2012

Private Eye discloses leaked Budget plans

A recent issue of Private Eye included a short piece titled: "Osborne's Next Budget Plans leaked".  It included:
20% VAT introduced on: 
- Raindrops on roses
- Whiskers on kittens
VAT increases on:
- Bright copper kettles
- Warm woollen mittens
- Brown paper packages (extra if tied up with string)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Alternative descriptions for HMRC

Hard to believe this hasn't appeared on the blog before but it seems not.

Back in 2004 the FT asked its readers to come up with a name for the merging departments of the Inland Revenue and Customs & Excise. The merger took effect from April 2005 since when the organisation has been known as HMRC or HM Revenue & Customs or simply The Revenue. Plenty in the media and in Parliament have also continued to refer to the body, incorrectly, as the Inland Revenue - as if the last 7 years had never happened).

The winning entry in the FT's competition was suggested by Ed Troup, who is now Director General Tax and Welfare at HM Treasury. He suggested: Finance Collection UK though it would have been known by its initials, were they not already in use by the retail chain French Connection.

 Other suggestions included:
  • iTax 
  • Taxes R Us
With the benefit of 7 years experience, what abbreviations or names might be more appropriate now if The Revenue was to go for a rebrand?

Those I've seen suggested recently include:
  • As an acronym HMRC is HoMewReCker!
  • Department of National Financing 
  • Department of National Funding 
  • Department of Social Financing
  • Duties, Income Levies, Deductions, Operations (but that might have some initial problems)
  • DRC = Department for Revenue Collection
  • P I N C H - Processing Income Now Creates Help (...for tomorrow) 
  • Crown Revenue Service 
  • British Revenue Services 
Any more?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

TPA Chatup lines posted on twitter

The following lines are hardly PC but they did make me smile. Apparently inspired by a line in a recent report published jointly by the TaxPayers Alliance and the IoD referencing wealth and sexual prowess. The following all appeared on 21 May with the hashtag #TPAchatuplines

@christopherward Fancy a quickie? Make sure you use a non-dom.

@Lefty_Lisa "You know what they say, it's not the size of the state, it's what you do with it"

@Markfergusonuk Nice laffer curves

@MrHarryCole I am writing to make a request under the Freedom of Information Act 2005. Are you free next Saturday?

@Scarletstand Assets aren't the only thing I'll be stripping tonight.

@AllisterHeath Keynes said "In the long run we are all dead". What are you doing tonight?

@matthew_elliott Your dress is like my ideal tax system. Cut low and with lots of transparency

@S8mB Bottom up or top down?

@Scarletstand Your second home or mine?

@sunny_hundal "If you come back with me tonight I'll show you my laffer curve"

‏@OllyNeville I know a great way to stimulate your private sector

@rrana53: Oh, stop with your quantitative teasing.

@LuckyAitkens Shall we take this offshore?

@teddyryan89 No, I don't think we're going too far too fast

@MShapland There was negative growth? Thats never happened to me before

@jpshaddock Sorry darling, I don't pay tax on a first date

Friday, May 18, 2012

Daft accounting related definitions

Book value: Value placed on an asset for accounting purposes that bears no relation to its true worth.
Budgeting: An exercise where the unknowledgeable force the unwilling to predict the impossible based entirely on the inaccurate.
Credit: Something that accountants rarely get.
FIFO: 'First In, First Out', a method of valuing stock. Also a method never used when accountancy firms are considering redundancies.
Goodwill: Concept invested to explain the difference between the value of a company and the price another company paid for it.
LIFO: 'Last In, Last Out', a method of valuing stock. Also a method frequently used when accountancy firms are considering redundancies.
Liability: Money or goods owed by a company. Also a first-year audit trainee.
Prudence: A fundamental accounting principle, designed to lend dignity to inaccuracy.
Reconciliation: The art of proving that one inaccurate figure exactly agrees with another inaccurate figure.

Taken from 'The Bluffer's Guide to Accountancy'

NB: This is the 600th item to be published on this blog. Who'd have thought it?!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Fantasy tax simplification

The biggest laugh at last night's CTA Address came in response to a question from the floor.

The question was related to a point the speaker, Andrew Tyrie*, had made about the need for the tax system to be made simpler. He had also stressed, as others have done for many years, that this will only really happen when Ministers are really motivated to change the system.

What if, all Ministers and members of the Treasury Select Committee were obliged to complete their own self assessment tax returns using only HMRC's online facilities.........and limited solely to the support available from HMRC's telephone helpline?

Cue - knowing laughter from the 200+ Chartered Tax Advisers and Accountants in the audience.

*Andrew Tyrie MP, Chairman of the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Best not to be abusive

This is a true story about a tax dispute that went on for two years before the underlying issue was clarified. It made me smile.

An Inspector of Taxes was explaining to me that the owner of the small business had been refusing to co-operate. As a result a relatively straightforward tax dispute about a tax scheme was heading towards the first tier tax tribunal.

It was when the case was reviewed and a new Inspector contacted the taxpayer that the REAL issue became apparent. The taxpayer had misread a letter from HMRC which referred to his involvement in an abusive tax arrangement. The taxpayer thought that HE personally was being accused of ABUSE and he resented this. In the event a simple apology from HMRC for the misunderstanding enabled negotiations to commence properly and the dispute was later resolved without the need for a formal hearing.

I didn't find out whether it really was the taxpayer who had misunderstood or if the original letter from HMRC was poorly worded. Who knows?!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Bookkeeping made really simple and fun

Except that it's never really much fun...

And many congratulations to Julia Haigh, the winner of the AAT bookkeeping video competition. This required entrants to explain the principles of double-entry bookkeeping in three minutes or less.

Before PwC, before Coopers & Lybrand, there was Cooper Brothers.....

Long before the merger of Coopers and Lybrand and Price Waterhouse created the firm we now know as PwC,  Coopers was originally called Coope...