Member Since: 24th Mar 2011
31st Jan 2016
Untrue. A mistaken entry would be replicated in exactly the same way as a correct entry. But take a solution with a single ledger and you have the possibility of designing to enable correction. The security of a block chain lies in the fact that it is an entire history of all transactions, including corrections. So, to ensure accuracy, it would be necessary for each transaction to read the entire history after finding the relevant data, to look for subsequent corrections. And there would also be a need as part of normal processing to check other ledgers to ensure the one being used was not corrupt.
The nearest equivalent in today's world would be to say that, for every transaction, you must read an entire detailed audit trail and a proportion of all backups. That's a lot of processing.
29th Jan 2016
And once an error gets into the block chain it's there forever. It may be followed by the correct information but it's going to take exponentially increasing processing complexity and power to deal with that. Put together an initial HMRC database riddled with errors, and HMRC's record with IT systems, and dystopian solution doesn't even begin to describe the result.
11th Jan 2016
In the same way that 42 was the single answer to life, the universe and everything, HMRC has a single answer to every tax question - U O US.
7th Jun 2015
Trouble is that HMRC management are in denial up to the highest level. Ever tried raising a complaint? You get a standard response saying how unusual the long time on hold was and that (unbelievable number) % of calls are answered in whatever the current target time is.
Maybe there's a need for a concerted effort to make the problem more visible in a way that can be flagged to MPs as well. For all it's decried, twitter would be one way of doing this - when on hold, post the occasional tweet highlighting how long the hold has been so far, using a hashtag to make the tweet searchable - something like #STILLonholdtoHMRC
3rd Jun 2015
Ah, but you need context. These days avoidance and evasion are only two thirds of the definition. It now needs to be extended to define abuse!
3rd Jun 2015
Zeitgeist - the spirit of the age. And when it comes to tax matters, zeitgeist is not the same thing as aggressive PR. I wouldn't trust a lawyer who tries to persuade us that the two are identical.
HMRC has made massive efforts to conflate tax avoidance and tax evasion, and certain red tops have colluded. They capitalised on certain egregious cases of aggressive tax avoidance to stir up envy and divert attention from the fact that for years HMRC has been trying to frighten small businesses into paying more tax than was due, rather than focusing their efforts on those big corporates with big contacts who pay laughably low levels of tax.
Certainly there is unease about aggressive tax avoidance. Equally there is a growing number of taxpayers with the view that there is something wrong with the way increasing taxes are accompanied by decreasing quality of services. That's an issue of public sector management, nothing to do with the accountancy and tax profession. To try and conflate the public sector management with assumed social attitudes rates the same score on the honesty scale as HMRC's conflation of evasion and avoidance.
29th May 2015
HMRC have no intention of providing a service, despite the amount of public money they suck in. The callcentre, like most of today's callcentres, is designed to frustrate the caller till they give up.
30th Jan 2015
Writing's possible but hardly cost or time effective when you need to get proof of posting to have a defence against penalties.
It's remarkably poor process to set up a system which doesn't apply to 100% of potential targets, and not include an efficient means of opting out. Equally it's poor process to issue voluminous documentation which lacks the opt out information. It doesn't take a great deal of thought to realise that processes should be adequate for all major target groups, and there are over half a million companies which don't need to autoenrol.
We keep hearing how overworked various bureaucratic organisations are, and in this we're seeing an example of why that is so and should not be so. This poor process guarantees that there will be significant cost in dealing with companies which are incorrectly penalised.
30th Jan 2015
No need for some companies to auto enrol
A company with no eligible employees does not need to set up an auto enrolment pension scheme. How does the Pension Regulator know whether a company falls into this category? Somehow, the company has to advise them and request that the records are updated appropriately. All the information being issued is about how to auto enrol, nothing about how to do the right thing to avoid penalties when a company doesn't need to auto enrol.
The answer, eventually tracked down via their helpline, is to send an email to the general enquiries address and hope that it actually gets recognised and somehow flagged on the various systems.
Emailing that address triggers an auto response promising a proper response within 5 - 10 days, so this needs to be tracked to ensure it happens.
I strongly suspect that a lot of penalies will be incorrectly issued when this manual approach fails.
27th Nov 2013
Commodities in a box
It appears that we are living in a state which can only see one valid way of working - as a faceless commodity corralled in a large box with large numbers of other faceless commodities. It's a mass production model which creates a nice neat situation whereby tax inspectors only have to deal with the top management of such organisations, or, at the lowest level, people who are paid to spend their time on understanding PAYE administration as defined by HMRC rather than as defined by the law. For that mindset, one man companies are way too messy and inconvenient.
Independence and innovation are being viewed as subversive, something to be discouraged through the might and inertia of the tax regime. If you go back a few months, Lord Browne announced on the Today programme that the only valid model for a small company is to aim to grow into a big company. Yet, at the same time, large US companies are sponsoring academic research to find out how to regain the flexibility and fresh thinking which comes so easily to small companies. The more the UK kills off all but the behemoths, the further this country will fall behind the rest of the world.
We really need a 'small is beautiful' movement to emphasise the value of people who want to operate as individuals or in small groups, whether that is as a family business with no aspirations beyond supporting a family, or as specialists dedicated to their specialism rather than the corporate greasy pole, or as lifestyle businesses who choose a workstyle which offers flexibility and variety.