Member Since: 29th Apr 1998
I'm a partner with Burton Sweet, chartered accountants & business advisers, and run the Shepton Mallet office down in beautiful Somerset. Despite the name, Shepton Mallet is actually the home of Glastonbury Festival! I trained in audit and corporate tax with Grant Thornton and came to my current position in 1991 via small local practices and a stint with a training consortium.
I have the distinction of being one of the original members of the AccountingWEB editorial team, having been a freelance writer here for a year or so before John Stockdyk joined!
Partner Burton Sweet
15th Sep 2021
Bookkeeping has been the big growth area for our practice in the last couple of years. We always avoided it, but finally caved in to the pressure from clients! So we sit across both camps, but we still need an effective solution for the micro-micro businesses who won't pay for bookkeeping. We're currently looking at Mettle - a free basic NatWest business bank account with free FreeAgent cloud software.
13th May 2021
Of course most of us are working at the bottom of this food chain, where our one-time contractor clients are now being told that they have to acept employment through an umbrella company and have no idea what that company is until they receive their payslip.
Once again the Government is wilfully sidestepping the issue of the widespread use of contractors, esp in Government and council contracts, specifically to avoid employment obligations and the related costs. The whole mess of IR35 and umbrella companies only exists because no-one in Gov or Treasury wants to resolve this issue -I suspect because it suits them not to.
I have had a few discussions on this with local MPs, and frankly I don't think they have a clue what's going on!
12th Mar 2021
There seems to be a misconception that VAT is an EU tax, and maybe that's where it started, but it has become a standard across much of the developed world now - well, apart from the USA - and probably for the simple reason that it works pretty well. Purchase Tax, VAT's predecessor in the UK was well before my time so I have no idea how it worked but I get the impression the Government would rather expand VAT. not abolish it.
30th Sep 2020
I agree with Duggimon, "stupid" is not an appropriate term here. If business owners outsource their bookkeeping and payroll to us they can hardly be expected to start dealing with this aspect of the payroll themselves.
What it does require though is an up-front conversation with payroll clients, and perhaps a new engagement letter, to make it clear that this is extra work and needs to be paid for. We had some client complaints early on with the extra cost of furlough claims and learned this the hard way!
22nd Jul 2020
I totally agree with the notion of reforming CGT, as you say it's far too complicated.
Aligning CGT and income tax rates would negate the practice of converting income to capital, so seems a sensible idea.
The underlying question is what exactly is CGT designed to tax? A Tory administration is unlikely to countenance a wealth tax, so it must be more focused than that. If investors save their taxed income in assets that are ultimately liable to high rates of CGT, doesn't that discourage saving? Maybe in a post-Covid world that's what we need to do, of course, keep money circulating in the economy.
When inflation was higher at least Indexation Allowance stripped out the effect of inflation so only the real terms gain was taxed. Restoring some relief for long-term gains would seem fair.
The loss of holdover relief on gifts has been the biggest problem for many of my clients. It is simply impossible for many to make lifetime gifts of capital assets, say to the next or later generations, so capital is getting stuck with aging family members, who of course tend to live longer these days too. There has to be a way of unlocking these assets without an immediate tax bill.
I note the big push to reform CGT comes not many years since all the talk at Budget time was of abolishing CGT altogether because the tax take was so small compared with the effort involved in collecting it!
8th Jan 2019
I drew the line years ago when I found that a firm I had applied to expected me to account for "human time" - i.e loo breaks - on my timesheets. Unbelievable!
8th Jan 2019
I'm not sure why you think traders filing their own VAT returns online will suddenly start making errors they didn't make filing manually. I don't think that's the issue at all. HMRC's biggest risk is that small businesses who file their own VAT returns will do nothing, and then in July 2019 find they can't file their June 2019 VAT return in the old way and in many cases will just give up. The impact on Treasury cashflow could be significant, and off-the-record conversations I have had suggest that some senior Treasury advisers are starting to panic!
8th Jan 2019
One of my clients has just received the HMRC letter advising that they will join MTD for VAT after October. They don't use any special schemes, etc. totally normal trading company. I don't know if this is an error by HMRC (surely not!) or an indication that in fact the deadline is actually slipping already.
15th Nov 2018
Apparently HubDoc will even be GDPR-compliant soon. Luckily for them a lot of UK users aren't bothered!
14th Nov 2018
The problem is that IR35 is a mean-spirited and politically-motivated tax. Why do large organisations - esp Government departments and public sector - insist on using contrator companies? Because they want to avoid the extensive and expensive obligations imposed on employers. The Government implicitly encourages this because it reduces Goverment spending.
The Government either cannot or will not revisit those employee protections etc, so it has created IR35 to give it a similar tax take to employment, without addressing any of the issues from the worker/employee's side.
I suggest it's a mistake to look for fairness or coherent employment principles in IR35. It's a political device and we just have to find a way to work with it until a future Government is willing to change the underlying rules.