Member Since: 26th Aug 2007
15th Jan 2020
I'm 100% with you on this one.
We've lost sight of the fact that 'the accounts' were/are a useful tool in managing even a small business and not just a record for the purposes of tax and other regulatory stuff.
Personally, I think basic book-keeping should be a 'main exercise' in schools' teaching of arithmetic - in my experience most small businesses cannot actually 'see' what the books are telling them, and even with hand-holding whatever you tell them remains one of life's mysteries.
Its not that they are necessarily arithmetically incompetent, but they have no interpretive eye.
All really they want to know is what's the tax and then what can they spend?
15th Jan 2020
What I find fascinating is the vacillatory nature of HMRCs stance...
on the one hand
"... In this case, the Tribunal found that the taxpayer should have been aware that a declaration of capital gain needed to be made, should have realised that the advice was wrong or potentially wrong such to be questioned ..."
it is assuming that the taxpayer will know more than the 'expert' help
on the other hand
"...The benchmark is a person who goes to an apparently competent professional adviser
gives the adviser a full and accurate set of facts, checks the adviser’s work or advice to the best of their ability and competence and adopts it."
And how would they "checks the adviser’s work or advice to the best of their ability" ?
No use trying to read the statute, rules or advices from HMRC if only they knew what to look for, the obscurity of which being the reason they went to an advisor in the first place!
So perhaps get a second adviser - whose work we then have to check.
Methinks the simple answer is to make HMRC have a duty of care in the advisements they give and for them to have an occasionally answered HelpLine to which these checks can be addressed.
8th Jan 2020
A most informative article.
But its all very well for legislators to effectively dump this sort of stuff on to the shoulders of 'the man on the Clapham omnibus'.
Firstly, the history of the NI deduction schemes is one of the more arcane areas of taxation [for tax it sureley is].
One only has to think of SERPS, an ephemeral distortion within which were variable rates, also depending if you were contracted in or contracted out - how many lay people actually understood any of that stuff?
By my rekoning there are circa currently 15 different 'states' of NI spread over the 4 Classes, in addition there are potentially NIC credits. There will be many people, for example people who work both self-employed and employed, intermittently, for whom this is all a complete nightmare, with responsibility for the amounts paid being 'shared' between payers and payees; HMRC is the only 'common point of contact'.
Is it really reasonable or fair to expect average Joe Public to have a full grip on all of this?
4th Dec 2019
It bothers me that HMRC point to 'not employing an expert' as evidence of slovenliness.
What they are actually saying is that the law is such a mess that the man in the street cannto rationally interpret it.
The requirement to 'employ an expert' is tantamount to a compulsory tax on people wishing to arrange their affairs within [this particular aspect of] the law.
It is bad enough that in UK there is no mechanism for individuals to be made aware of 'the law' [esp. changes thereof] and yet their responsibility is not to be ignorant.
The whole thing is purposely undstisfactory to the detriment of the individual and the advantage of the organs of the state ...
2nd Dec 2019
Ministers are there to make decisions on the basis of advisement from the highly skilled and astute Civil Service, of which HMRC is a branch, following the guidelines carefully set out in the manifesto of the imcumbent government.
Ministers are not there to particularly deal with the minutiae of process - though many of them seem forget that to some degree.
I have no doubt that the current pensions imbroglio was sold to the then Chancellor by the far-sighted and commercially aware HMRC on the basis of their vast experience of enabling simple tax changes.
What really bothers me is that 'nothing is done' when it is seen that such inadvertant outcomes occur.
And whilst the 'public face' of this disaster shineth forth from the NHS, the NHS is by no means the only place of suffering.
25th Nov 2019
"...along with efforts to support small and medium-sized businesses through alliances with the banking sector. "
As an example, RBOS's recent historic policy of 'gain by foreclosure' may or may not be currently in abeyance, and other banks may have more subtle methodologies - but the one thing you can rely upon is that they will leverage such politically naive 'support suggestions' to their gain and the detriment of the victims.
If the said 'alliances' are political alliances by political parties then they are worthless - if they are intended to be anything other than bank<>client relationships then they will amount to greater opportunities for banks to interfere with the sweet-running of businesses, inexorably and predictably to the businesses ultimate detriment.
8th Nov 2019
"The entire affair was branded by RSM's tax expert George Bull as “a salutary lesson on how not to enact new tax legislation”."
Strange how "the bleedin' obvious" remains obscure until underscored by "an expert".
Whither common sense? - of which HMRC is utterly bereft.
6th Nov 2019
"This cannot be more clearly illustrated than with the recent troubles of Uber in the UK, whose drivers – traditionally thought to be self-employed – were, in fact, employees of the company ..."
And therein lies the issue.
All we really know is that a judge adjudged them to be 'employees' within the constraints of the current, necessarily archaic, set of parameters against which such judgements may legally be made.
It is exactly this propogation of being required to classify by shoe-horning into an archaic, and no longer apt, schema/classification [which is also forced upon us by HMRC's innate inability/inflexibility around mapping to any current reality] that causes angst amongst workers and payers as well as time consuming and expensive convolutions of what ought to be simple algorithmic systems.
4th Nov 2019
ANY retrospection in application of enacted law is reprehensible and dishonest.Justin Bryant wrote:
Very interesting to see the indignation over this pretty benign and totally justified retrospective law change and yet the acceptance and indeed strong support on this website (by muppets admittedly) for the loan charge that is a million times worse and totally unjustified!
It nullifies and negates certainty of legal compliance - and renders our legal system on a par with that of China or Turkmenistan.
There is a big difference between HMRC indicating its thoughts and preferences, or even moral expectations [framed by its own rather special interpretation thereof] and written statute.
Even re-interpretation of 'common practice' in the application of statute, such as we have seen in recent years, significantly undermines the ability to comply.
I would hazard that Legal Certainty would probably, if tested, be considered a Fundamental Human Right - and this is definitely undermined by ANY form or retrospection.
1st Nov 2019
"One of my former editors at the BBC stuck a post-it to my back which read “I am Satan’s Mistress” so I’m no stranger to poor behaviour myself."
As a context setting intro, it would have been helpful if you had indicated what aspect of your poor behaviour led to this rather childish 'retaliation'.
Were you being disruptive, bossy, demeaning? Clearly you had created a position where the editor felt either unable to communicate with you or that it was futile.
Did you start playing the feminist/sexist/genderist/etc. card before conversations even got going? Could you just not stand each other on sight?
I grope in the dark ... it was obviously a reaction to something ... what?