2011: Quotes of the Year

The AccountingWEB editors put together their traditional compilation of wisecracks, pithy sayings and comments that encapsulate the main events of the year.

“In the end, the lovely [prostitute] Petra gave it all up to go into public relations, which she told me without the slightest hint of irony about having been in that trade all along.”

MarionMorrison confirms something we always suspected on Aweb in an interesting thread about advising clients who may engage in illegal activities.

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I came across the phrase 'insultation' recently, in connection with the forestry consultation; apparently it applies to the situation where a government department conducts a consultation exercise with no intention of listening to the responses, thus being an insult to the intelligence of the electorate. HMRC seem to be well up to speed in such exercises....”

“It is called Working Together.”(Trevor Scott)

A joint entry from Paul Glover and Trevor Scott on HMRC’s unannounced Business Record Check pilot scheme

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“The rules allowed banks to pay dividends and bonuses out of unrealised profits—from profits that were anything but certain. The system is still in place now — we can’t tell if similar problems are building up because there is no requirement to separate realised from unrealised profits… Significant further work is necessary before IFRS can be said to be totally fit for purpose.”

PwC partner and ICAEW president Peter Wyman, in evidence to Lords Economic Affairs committee investigation into audit market and banking collapse.

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Lord Lawson: Mr Connolly explicitly said—and I think I took this down right; if I didn't I'm sure he'll correct me—that, so far as the question of auditing the banks is concerned, the auditors performed well. That seems to me to be extraordinarily self-satisfied in the light of what we now know to be the case. How do you justify that statement? You would know about it because you were the auditor of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group, weren't you?

Mr Connolly: That's right.

Lord Lawson: Which went belly-up within a few months of your giving it a clean bill of health.

Mr Connolly: Yes. Well, of course, it didn't go belly-up. It was supported and that's—

Lord Lawson: No, it went belly-up. That's why it was supported.

Mr Connolly: But, first of all, in terms, the question that Lord Levene asked and which you are pushing back on now is, "Was there a failure of audit?", and I don't think there was. I think that the environment was such that the complexity of the financial environment at that time caused there to be a hugely intensive effort from auditors, recognising the onerous nature of their role. As a consequence of that, we dealt with very significant complex audits and had very important decisions to make around our audits…

Lord Lawson of Blaby: Absolutely astonishing. It seems to me that you're saying that you noticed that they were on very thin ice but you were completely relaxed about it because you knew that there would be support; in other words the taxpayer would support them, so there was no problem.

Evidence from a December 2010 hearing before the House of Lords economic affairs committee, but published in July.

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“So after all these years of Tory MPs fulminating about the iniquity of IR35, what do they do when they come to power? Nothing.”

Simon Sweetman, a member of the OTS Small Business Review panel, loses patience with the government.

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“The only organisations that seem to be 'winning' in the IR35 battle appear to be the companies selling tax investigation insurance.”

Frustratedwithhmrc felt much the same.

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“Dave Hartnett is a corrupt representative of a corrupt system, where the richest 1% are routinely allowed to scam and lobby their way out of paying their fair share.”

Tax protest group UK Uncut passes judgement on HMRC's controversial permanent secretary for tax, who is due to retire in June 2012, aged 61.

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“Steve's brilliance, passion and energy were the source of countless innovations that enrich and improve all of our lives…The world is immeasurably better because of Steve.”

Apple, official statement

"Steve was among the greatest of American innovators - brave enough to think differently, bold enough to believe he could change the world, and talented enough to do it."

US president Barack Obama

“The world rarely sees someone who has had the profound impact Steve has had, the effects of which will be felt for many generations to come.”

Microsoft’s Bill Gates

“Steve, thank you for being a mentor and a friend. Thanks for showing that what you build can change the world. I will miss you."

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder

A selection of quotes after Steve Jobs, one of the fathers of the personal computing era and the founder of Apple, died earlier this year at the age of 56.

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“It seems to me that there will never be a perfect time to mandate filing in iXBRL. There will always be implementation challenges , and HMRC’s challenge here is to work through them in collaboration with the representative bodies.”

In February Treasury minister David Gauke batted back a request from six accountancy bodies to delay the 1 April implementation of mandatory Corporation Tax return efiling using the iXBRL format.

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“The best hope we have of making the reforms work is to respond wholeheartedly to this consultation, by telling HMRC firmly what won't work, and pushing it towards acknowledging where it can improve its own service levels”

Rebecca Benneyworth on the HMRC Agent Strategy consultation, which was launched on 31 May.

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“Any attempt to introduce obligations between tax agents and HMRC which impinge on agents’ relationships with their clients would be completely unacceptable. I welcome HMRC’s statement in the consultation paper that they are not seeking to change this. We will hold them to this… Secondly, any system of enrolment, and inevitably disenrolment, of tax agents must be overseen by an independent body. While we are very much with HMRC on wanting to get the highest standards among tax professionals, HMRC cannot be permitted to be prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner when someone’s livelihood is potentially at stake.”

Anthony Thomas, CIOT, in reaction to the Agent Strategy consultation.

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“Just learn from this Edward. There’s no shame in you being an accountant. Don’t ever run yourself down as far as that’s concerned.”

Lord Sugar on Apprentice candidate Edward Hunter, who had trained with one of the Big Four accountancy firms.

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“It’s important that we free small firms up so they can grow and drive the economy. The changes I have announced today mean that small firms will be able to concentrate on growing and taking on more people instead of paperwork.”

Business secretary Vince Cable on removing the need for independently audited accounts for tens of thousands of small businesses.