Friday, August 26, 2016

Dominic Frisby, 'Let’s Talk about Tax'

I am indebted to Philip Fisher for sharing a review of this 2016 Edinburgh show in Taxation magazine.  Philip's observations include the following about Dominic's show:
  • While tax specialists will know much of what is on offer, they should learn some new facts, whether about the history of tax, the size of our code, now over 10 million words - being 12½ times as many as the bible – or ephemera such as the average telephone wait for HMRC, 47 minutes.
  • He also makes many intelligent observations, for example that if tax gets too high, people merely avoid it using those time-honoured ‘Fs’: fight, flight and fraud. He observes also that HMRC is technically not answerable to parliament but to the Queen (who is technically exempt from funding herself but pays tax on a voluntary basis)
Other reviewers include additional points of note:
  • When he steps onto the stage you can instantly see Frisby’s dressed for money. Suited, booted and topped by a bowler hat, the comedian looks like the quintessential City man. It doesn’t take long to realise the comedian has a compelling interest in cash, and in particular how the government goes about taking ours.
  • His knowledge of tax history is encyclopaedic – the UK window tax of the 17th century and its adverse effect on the population’s health and the Roman’s desire to tax urine (which was apparently a valuable agent in clothes laundering and the prevention of tooth decay) just two amusing examples.
Warning: The video interview with Dominic below talking about the show includes sexual references!



Friday, August 12, 2016

10 alternatives to being the Taxman's 'Customer'

For some years now HMRC (the taxman) has used the word 'customers' to refer to all types of taxpayers and tax credit claimants.  Of course 'customers' normally get a choice as to where they shop so it's not the right word.  

Here are ten alternative, not too serious, descriptions. Do you have any other suggestions?

  1. Slaves
  2. Victims
  3. Codees - Anyone who deals with the tax authorities has to have a code, so that's the common element.
  4. Punters
  5. Suckers 
  6. Cash cows
  7. Mugs
  8. Muggles 
  9. Government financiers
  10. Lemons (as in "squeeze them until the pips squeak")

Friday, August 05, 2016

6 reasons accountants make great friends


  1. They're an asset that never depreciates
  2. They can work out how to split the bill after a meal (and could do so before apps were developed to resolve this important life skill)
  3. Without them, it's an accrual world
  4. You can always count on them
  5. They help you figure life out
  6. They make everything balance and give credit where it's due
With due credit to the AAT community whose online contributions were collated into this video that contains the 6 reasons above - plus a 'scary' 7th point!


Friday, July 29, 2016

Auditors are people too - a poem

Auditors are people too, we’re not nasty and mean
No need for fear and loathing whenever we are seen
Don’t hide behind your desk or go and nervously take flight
We’re only there to try to make sure everything’s all right
So when we do a test it isn’t just because we can
It’s to check your system’s working right all neatly spick and span
When we ask awkward questions it’s simply that we care
That your records may be incomplete with not all you need there
We look for fraud it’s true but hope to find it? We do not!
Dealing with fraud just adds more to the work that is our lot
Yes auditors are lovely with a helpful task to do
It’s only incidental when we make more work for you
I hope that now you understand and so, what do you say
Will you fight prejudice and hug an auditor today?

Penned by Stephen Brown 

Friday, July 15, 2016

The Owl and the Pussycat may well have been into tax avoidance

A simple analysis suggests that this Edward Lear poem is all about tax avoidance.


The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea [going offshore obviously]
In a beautiful pea green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money, [evidently cash]
Wrapped up in a five pound note. [money laundering perhaps?]

Pussy said to the Owl, 'You elegant fowl!
How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! too long we have tarried:
But what shall we do for a ring?'
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-tree grows [obviously a tax haven]

The big clue is in that penultimate line. Leaving the UK for a year and a day is the minimum period of absence required to ensure that they secured non-resident status under the rules then in place.

The above analysis was offered in 2009 by Andrew Hubbard, now Editor in Chief of Taxation magazine, when he was newly installed as President of CIOT, after the Chartered Tax Advisers' address on the anniversary of Edward Lear's birthday.

Friday, July 08, 2016

Funny message on gift card for retiring accountant

Message seen on the front of a greeting card given to a tax partner on his retirement from a sizeable firm of accountants:
All I ever wanted was an honest week's pay for an honest day's work.

Friday, July 01, 2016

The accountant song (Money all day)

This song seems to have been inspired by working for one of the big 4 accountancy firms