Life is tough on the front line of accountancy. For more than five years, our intrepid correspondent has been bringing us news and views from a typical West Country practice.
More "tax avoidance" nonsense
One thing this Government regularly annoys me about is its stance on "tax avoidance", a term it consistently uses in an attempt to wilfully confuse it in the media and the minds of the public with illegal tax evasion.
Jimmy Carr is the latest celebrity to be reportedly using "aggressive" tax planning, which seems to be the profession's euphemism for something that legal experts say will work, but they're not sure! What really annoys me is successive governments' inability to admit that the tax system is their fault, and it's a mess! At least Ed Miliband had the decency to admit to the BBC : "I'm not in favour of tax avoidance obviously, but I don't think it is for politicians to lecture people about morality. I think what the politicians need to do is - if the wrong thing is happening - change the law to prevent that tax avoidance happening." Bingo! They make the laws, so if they don't like them - or we, the voters tell them we don't like them - they need to change them. How difficult is that?
OK, rant over (for now). Back to this week's bulging tax return workload. Or at least I would except for the distraction of three full tax enquiries we currently have running - that makes three enquiries in the last 5-6 years, so it's a bit of a shock to the system! Thankfully I have a big enough team of qualified tax accountants in the office, so three of us have taken one enquiry each. It's good training for my newer tax manager, and it spreads the workload at a time when we should be preparing tax returns for people needing income figures for Tax Credits renewals.
One current frustration is that despite our willingness to move these enquiries forward, we have one where HMRC took the books and records away a couple of months ago and still haven't looked at them! You can bet as soon as they do that they will expect us to reply to their queries at pretty short notice.