Friday, December 28, 2012

A non-boring email disclaimer from an accountant

Picked up from a thread on AccountingWeb:
"The information in this document and any attached files is top secret and confusing and may also be very posh. It is intended solely for and should be read only by you (the recipient). In the event that you do not get this message please notify the sender by return. Help I'm being held prisoner by the Institute of Family Planning Accountants, they keep me in a Linux office and subject me to double entry all day without any roll over relief, please help! If however the contents of this email make no sense whatsoever then you probably were not the intended recipient and you should immediately delete yourself, and not disclose, copy, distribute, or retain any life or any part of it."
Originator = anonymous ("mouse007")

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Is Santa an immoral tax avoider?

I am indebted to that satirical and very funny tax sage, Murphy Richards, of the Justice for Taxes Network for inspiring this festive blog post. He has noted the following in his tweets:
Being mythical puts Santa outside the scope of UK taxes. It may be legal but it is immoral and therefore it is illegal and Father Christmas is a tax evader. 
This lead others to comment:
@BrownsAccounts: Hodge #PAC questions Father Xmas re #tax #avoidance, deliberately creating losses by giving things away 

@jmalitrg Being Laplander and non-dom and spending so little time in UK chimneys he has no perm establishment so he is ok 

@jmalitrg:  A General Anti Abuse of Rudolf (GAAR) provision will catch him.....
Addendum

The front cover of Private Eye's Christmas edition follows a similar theme. Maybe it inspired Murphy Richards. It shows Santa flying across the sky in his sledge with the now ubiquitous ill-informed illogical commentators saying what they think:

Private Eye's message: 
"Happy Taxmas and a Dodgy New Year"
Critics:
Santa's based offshore 
He only spends a day a year in Britain...
...and he doesn't pay the Treasury a penny 
Booooo! We hate Santa

Monday, December 17, 2012

If Santa suffered an audit.....

ParenteBeard, a top 25 U.S. accounting firm, is helping to balance the books of what would be the largest non-profit in the world: Santa, Inc. The following notes are extracted from the related Press Release which goes into far more detail.  They have been described as 'Reckless Santanomics on CNN (see video below).

While Santa’s magical powers eliminate many of the typical business fundamentals such as production and employee costs, ParenteBeard analysed what it would take to actually operate Santa’s North Pole. They determined that it would cost 42.3 billion dollars to operate Santa, Inc. annually.

ParenteBeard's analysis includes detailed consideration of the following categories of expense and how the figures below have been computed:
  • Gift Production: $39.5 billion (assuming the av value of Santa's gifts per child =  $75)
  • Employee Costs: $2.77 billion (incl: Elve's Salaries: $2 billion and Health Benefits: $773 million) 
  • Electricity Costs: $98 million 
  • Reindeer Costs: $54,000
It's a long time since I was in practice but it strikes me that ParentBoard's Santanomics are flawed.

I'm prepared to accept that they can ignore any property related costs other than electricity on the assumption that Santa.Inc owns the workshop and that no impairment costs arise due to specific local weather conditions. But there is still the cost of a new red suit each year - with all the travelling he does it's unlikely his suit would last indefinitely. And, I'm no expert but I suspect the reindeer costs are too low. The CNN santanomics expert agrees....

Friday, December 14, 2012

And the INABA award this week goes to...a goth accountant

This is the first in what I hope will be regular (virtual) awards ‘presented’ to accountants who operate in such a way as to confirm my contention that ‘Boring Is Optional’.. . More on the awards here:

J. ‘Psyche’ Coderre MAAT, is a 20-year veteran of the goth/alternative scene. She created her website, Death and Taxes in 2009. When she says she's focused on keeping clients in the 'black' she means it literally! Not only is her website different. She is obviously deserving of an INABA (it stands for 'I'm Not A Boring Accountant').

Psyche (sy-kee) tells me that:
Most alternative types, as they progress through life, are faced with a choice: Change your appearance, or accept that your career choices may be somewhat limited. Many of us fear experiencing the fate of Richmond from "The IT Crowd", whose adoption of goth fashion saw him banished to the office basement. However, I quite like my hair purple.
When I completed my AAT qualification in 2009, I wasn't looking forward to removing my piercings, dyeing my hair a normal colour, suiting up and joining a City firm. The option of going into practice -- where, as the boss, I could set my own dress code -- seemed far more appealing. As did the prospect of working with other alternative types like myself, who were running their own micro-businesses and seeking to earn a living outside of the corporate culture. 
Death and Taxes was the obvious name for a goth accountancy firm. The logo of the Grim Reaper with a calculator immediately suggested itself, and I commissioned the design from an artist who had previously created flyers for the club night I used to run in Washington, D.C. 
I wasn't sure how well it would go over; whether, in spite of the humorous branding, I'd be seen as someone people would want to bring business to. But due to the nature of accountancy selling itself mainly through word-of-mouth, this wasn't an issue I experienced. And word-of-mouth travels very well within the close-knit alternative scene. 
Once word got around that "one of us" was offering accountancy services, people from across the scene started contacting me. 
It's not just goths who have responded well to Death and Taxes. I'm often greeted by "I love that name!" when ringing HMRC with a query. 
People don't expect a stereotypically "dull" accountant to have a sense of humour. 
It's also aided my practice by making it memorable. It's easy to forget whether the accountants your friend recommended six months ago were Smith and Jones Accountants or Jones and Smith Accountants, but everyone remembers Death and Taxes! 
Another advantage is that when meeting a client for the first time, I am very easy to spot. 
I'm also probably one of the very few accountancy firms to be selling its own branded merchandise. 
I love watching new people I meet do double takes when they ask what I do, and I tell them I'm an accountant. I love subverting the "boring accountant" stereotype!
If you know someone who may qualify for an INABA, please check the (very simple) criteria here and then let me know via my website: www.BookMarkLee.co.uk

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

We all love accounting - #BoringIsOptional

The chorus goes:
"We all love accounting - it's the reason we come to school, dear old accounting, there's nothing else quite as cool"