2013 quotes of the year

Our traditional annual round-up of quips and comments posted on AccountingWEB. Have we missed out any of your favourites?

* * *

“Accountancy is more of a people-facing job than hiding in an office and dealing with numbers all day as I was lead to believe.” A Mum and An Accountant set the scene for 2013 with one of her 10 things I wish I’d known before I became an accountant

* * *

“When is any government going to wake up and stop supporting house prices as a cornerstone of their policy? By continuing to do this they maintain house prices at 35-40% above their worth and perpetrate the problems.” AccountingWEB member JC laments George Osborne’s Help to Buy scheme announced in the Chancellor’s March Budget speech.

* * *

“It is possible to still pay the salary in one lump as an annual amount, but if running a payroll in March 2014 to record an annual salary of, say £7,500, a payment would need to be made to match. Making a credit to the director’s loan account would not count as payment for RTI purposes, as payment has already been made in advance. There is also an issue in potentially triggering NIC liability if the pay is drawn before the salary run, although this frequently won’t be a problem if the director draws less than the threshold. Where the salary is ‘paid’ by crediting to the director’s loan account which is in credit rather than overall debit, these problems largely disappear, although if a very small company does not actually write up books and ledgers this may be difficult to demonstrate.” Rebecca Benneyworth gets to the heart of the key troublespot for many AccountingWEB members: how to manage RTI for one-man director companies.

* * *

“There’s nothing more emotive for small business than things that touch payments to staff. RTI is as close to that tender nerve as it is possible to get. It puts the profession in a very, very uncomfortable position.” Credec director Alexander Meynell describes the reasons for growing discontent over continuing niggles and backlogs with RTI in April.

* * *

“First you have to pretend you know what you’re doing, ensure what you are about to submit has been thoroughly inspected, make sure you are correctly aligned before you make your first submission and finally, before you pay the subject make sure you have fully submitted yourself.” Swiss Toni offers another perspective, explaining why RTI is like making love to a beautiful woman.

* * *

“We have found good progress by HMRC in reducing costs and meeting its revenue targets. In respect of raising customer service levels to an acceptable standard, it has a much longer way to go. HMRC faces a considerable management challenge if it is to meet its commitments to increase revenue by stepping up its anti-avoidance and anti-fraud activities. It needs to strengthen its own efforts in tackling avoidance.” Comptroller and auditor general Amyas Morse passes judgement on HMRC’s 2012-13 accounts.

* * *

“Should companies leave it too late to plan and implement [auto enrolment], they will be caught in the flood of planning and implementation requests and, more importantly, will point the finger at their accountants if they face compliance issues.” Antony Carty from Clifton Wealth urges accountants to get to grips with auto enrolment, before the coming storm engulfs them.

* * *

“The defendants' duty on 2 October 2004 was to use all proper skill and care to give tax-planning advice... so as to reduce or eliminate his liability to pay CGT on the sale of his BFL shares even though not requested to do so.” Paragraph 174 of Mr Justice Silber’s decision in the £1m Mehjoo v Harben Barker professional negligence case in June that struck fear in the heart of the country’s pratising accountants (with thanks to Justin Bryant).

* * *

“As any reasonably competent accountant would have known, it was important to consider Mehjoo’s domicile status in the context of his tax affairs. It seems that his accountants did not do so.  In such a case any accountant would be found negligent if they also then failed to consider the application of what might be considered ‘standard’ advice to non-doms… The lessons from this case though are not restricted to clients who may be entitled to claim non-dom status. The same principles apply to all clients and all areas of specialist advice that they might require.” Mark Lee challenges the prevailing assumption that June’s decision means accountants have a legal duty to advise clients to avoid tax.

* * *

“The danger is not that a typical reasonably competent High Street general practice accountant will not be familiar with available legitimate tax avoidance schemes relevant to a non-dom selling a business. The danger is that the accountant might not recognise when he is out of his depth.” Anti-money laundering expert and legal commentator David Winch supports the Mark Lee interpretation of Mehjoo v Harben Barker, which will be going to appeal in 2014.

* * *

“What is the moral of the story? Avoid giving advice unless you are 100% certain not only that it is correct but also there are no alternatives. The first bit is relatively easy. It just requires poring over big volumes of very small print or the Internet equivalent. Ensuring that the advice is also complete is much more of a challenge and, in many cases, the best thing that any small (or to be fair larger) accountant could do is admit defeat and bring in help from experts, whether colleagues, larger firms of accountants, solicitors or possibly even barristers.” Columnist Philip Fisher offers his interpretion of Mejoo v Harben Barker.

* * *

“Cloud accounting has improved the work I do for my clients, and they do for me, beyond anything I could have hoped for five years ago. While it's reduced my fees and workload on the number crunching side, again, it's given me the opportunity to do more beneficial and enjoyable work and reduce the business to a much more comfortable level.” AccountingWEB’s 2013 technology champion Paul Scholes summarises the advantages of the cloud in an Any Answers thread that asked if traditional bookkeeping was dying.

* * *

“I do not believe a person who advocates artificial or abusive tax arrangements should be a panel member. I did not advocate any such arrangement at the conference and do not advocate such arrangements.” Baker Tilly tax partner and former ICAEW Tax Faculty chairman David Heaton resigns from the GAAR panel after being filmed by Panorama describing an NIC avoidance scheme that will keep clients’ money out of the Chancellor’s “grubby mitts”.

* * *

“Hodge is grandstanding again and repeatedly refuses genuine offers to provide her with some real knowledge and understanding of the tax system... She and PAC don't want to know. They seem to simply want to gain headlines by making unwarranted ignorant accusations and assertions. The media laps it up.” Mark Lee voices a common view among accountants about the Public Accounts Committee’s continuing campaign against tax evasion and avoidance by large corporations.

* * *

“Cheating, fraud, lining your own pockets... some so called professionals are no better than thugs, but at least thugs don't hide behind a veneer of respectability or have the professional bodies as bed mates.” AccountingWEB member of the year for 2013 ShirleyM responds to the Premier Motor Auctions allegations aired in Parliament by Austin Mitchell MP in November.

* * *

“We’re going to tackle the growth of intermediaries disguising employment as false self employment, depriving workforces of basic employment rights like the minimum wage in a bid to avoid employer national insurance.” Chancellor George Osborne sets hackles rising across the country during his autumn statement. In the end the anticipated IR35 crackdown extended to including “provision of services” in Finance Bill 2014 clauses defining who should brought within PAYE.

* * *

“It is comforting to hear that the measures will be confined to a specific problem area and will not affect legitimately self-employed contractors and freelancers.” PCG policy director Simon McVicker expresses freelancers’ relief about the intermediaries policy.

* * *

“Do you have what it takes to sternly admonish a client about the results of excess and how to pull in the belt? Would you be scared of ruffling feathers or would you believe that if that is the cost of maintaining your reputation for the right advice, so be it ?” The Flying Scotsman ruffles a few feathers of his own in an Accountant in Business blog entitled, If HM Government was your client how would you advise balancing the books?

* * *

This collection barely scratches the surface of the thousands of posts and comments made on AccountingWEB during 2013. Feel free to put forward your own suggestions by commenting below!