Ouch! Three names I recognised in the last quarter, all restaurants and one a former client. Two were run by limited companies both of which have gone into liquidation in the past 12 months, but both restaurants continue in business.
So I doubt they'll be paying up.
The third was my local chip shop, which seems still to be thriving.
Why do they ask the question? Presumably they crunch numbers and provide government with statistics about how many companies have fewer than 10 employees, how many employees the average company has and so on.
Clearly there's a flaw in the software because the original systems analyst didn't know that it's possible to have an active company without any employees; so you're forced to give an answer which is more than zero. In short, you're forced (by their mistake) to give an incorrect answer. But in the great scheme of things, it makes no difference whatsoever, and no blame can be attached to you for giving incorrect information.
My favourite was the retired Tax Inspector who was Clerk to the Commissioners, and who was investigated by HMRC who considered his record-keeping grossly inadequate and his expenses claims excessive (mileage claims and wife's wages as I recall). He ended up appealing to the Commissioners - and he lost!
Often turns out to be tip-of-the-iceberg. The man who pays cash on dicky invoices to a man in a pub may on investigation be found to have included other doubtful invoices in his records. HMRC can be expected to act like a dog with a bone on this one.
For many years, I arranged joint events with groups of up to 75 of my pals, both in this country and abroad. I always sent them a list of everyone involved and their contact details so that they could get in touch with one another and arrange to travel together to the venue, and afterwards I sent a souvenir group photo of everyone there, with names in case they'd forgotten. Everyone appreciated this, no-one objected, and it contributed to the enjoyment and smooth running of the event. Once in 40 years, a family got in touch when they received the list and said they noted a family they didn't like was coming. Could I please ensure that these two families weren't in the same hotel and weren't booked on the same outings - which I duly did. So the list clearly helped them.
I guess that owing to this poorly thought-out legislation, I can't provide this helpful information anymore. Nuts can't now be cracked because the sledgehammer is too big.
Looked at in a simplistic, non-technical way, it might be looked at like this:
On the original sales, you accounted for output VAT on the full sale price - say $20 on a $100 (net) sale;
You're now effectively refunding part of the net $100 to the customer;
You must be entitled to credit for the appropriate part of the $20 output VAT you've already paid over;
You're obtaining this credit by reducing the output you're now declaring.
(Sorry about the dollar signs - my computer's playing up)
Years ago I had a client who operated a car recovery truck for motorway breakdowns. He often stored the broken-down cars at his yard and some were never collected and eventually went for scrap. HMRC alleged my client was operating an undeclared car dismantling business from his yard and during interview, the inspector said he had seen a Ford Scorpio being worked on or dismantled in the yard. The client explained that he had allowed his neighbour to work on his (the neighbour's) Scorpio in the yard. My client definitely did not own the Scorpio and was not stripping it for parts. "That's a shame," I said. "I've got a broken electric window switch on my Scorpio and I've had trouble getting a spare to replace it." "Sorry, I can't help you," said the client.
The inspector accepted the explanation and there and then declared he was closing the enquiry. The client was pleased, and by close of business that day, a package was delivered anonymously to my office containing a set of four used electric window switches from a dismantled Ford Scorpio .
Will the course qualify him/her for an activity in which the company will be making taxable supplies? If so, surely the input tax can be reclaimed.
Resigning confirms your integrity - you're not prepared to accept payment for no work.
In telling her you're resigning, I guess you'll emphasise to her the seriousness of her situation if she ignores her VAT and other tax responsibilities.
She sounds like one of those chaotic individuals who mean well but never get around to doing what's necessary. Coming to you in the first place indicates her good intentions, as does her continuing to pay a monthly fee. But she needs to understand that doing this has not magically transferred her compliance responsibilities onto you, as she may subconsciously believe.
She needs help, you've done your best to provide it and she hasn't cooperated. You can do no more for the time being, save protecting yourself and your reputation by resigning.
Somebody, sometime, will have to sort out the mess and it may well be you if she comes back to you when the baillifs arrive. But meantime you need to preserve your place in the moral high ground.
I was interested to read that two major bus operators recently had their hybrid electric/diesel buses come in for midlife overhaul. (Hybrids apparently run on batteries but switch to diesel when batteries are low, or when more power is needed) Both companies found the cost of replacing the time-expired batteries prohibitive and opted instead to remove the electric components and convert the vehicles to full time diesel operation.
To my mind, this doesn't augur well for electric cars and doesn't encourage me to consider buying one. All-electric cars don't have the option of converting to petrol or diesel when the batteries fall due for replacement.
To answer the original question, since the majority of our electricity comes from fossil-fuel power stations, the overall environmental effect of changing to electric transport will be topical but minor - similar volumes of fumes will be spued out into the atmosphere, but they'll be spued out somewhere else.