Thursday, December 31, 2009

7 new taxes for 2010

The following were proposed in jest by Simon Sweetman on AccountingWeb:
  1. a Twitter tax, levied at .001p per tweet
  2. an iPhone tax, levied only for boasting about what it can do
  3. a tax on the downloading of tracks simply as part of a campaign to get a Christmas number one
  4. a Wii tax levied on the breaking of household objects
  5. a tax on irritating ringtones, doubled for Christmas ones
  6. a tax on plastic packaging for toys that needs an entrenching tool and a pneumatic drill to open
  7. a tax on muzak and double for Christmas muzak, treble for Christmas muzak before December
As Simon says, with all these: "We should be well on the way to clearing the national debt – just need a few more suggestions..."

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Ron Howard plans a tv comedy set in a local IRS office

The news that a Ron Howard taxman comedy lands at Fox was reported by Reuters in September.

It will be written by Brent Forrester, writer-director on another workplace comedy, NBC's "The Office." Forrester and Howard are executive producing with Howard's partners at Imagine TV, Brian Grazer and David Nevins.

"It's an idea Ron had toyed with for many years as a feature," Nevins said. "Eventually, Brian and I convinced him it would be better as a TV show."

The three met with several writers until hitting it off with Forrester.

"The one thing that unites all Americans is their suspicion and hatred for the IRS," Forrester said. "That makes the characters on the show underdogs, because outside the office everyone is suspicious of them."

The IRS agent at the center "is trying hard to believe that his job is good and noble and provides a very important, vital service," Forrester said. "It's a classic workplace show; the model for it is 'Taxi,'" Forrester said.

"In essence, it's a group of eclectic characters who have come to the job from different paths and who represent different points of view and different voices."

There will be procedural elements to the show, too.

"'L.A. Law' had lawsuits, and 'CSI' has murders; this show has audits, tax collection and special ops, with the FBI against organized crime and drug dealers," Forrester said.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Beware your comments on taxman's youtube videos

This is a perfectly feasible scenario of the type I warned about on the TaxBuzz blog earlier in the year: HMRC investigating posts on social media. But do see the note at the very end below!
Mark Krowly didn't take kindly to IRS agent Gerald Fitts making a YouTube video warning potential tax dodgers to look out this season; he told the IRS to "f--k off" during a 197 character rant that may have led to his audit.

Krowly says he was angry the IRS would invade a "peaceful hamlet like YouTube with fussy, veiled threats," and was investigated by the IRS shortly after leaving his comment, a comment he admits crossed the line.

"I basically challenged the legitimacy of the tax, as well as the legitimacy of Mr. Fitts' birth," he said.

Before being audited he received dozens of emails from concerned YouTube citizens who warned him he might need to get his financial affairs in order. Krowly realized at that point he was "pretty much toast."

When he tried to erase his comment, a cryptic message on the webpage said "Comments Disabled." Krowly's comment had gone into the void, as well as hundreds of others. The IRS would not comment on these comments, or if it is procedure to collect them.

A woman in Utah wishing to stay anonymous says she is particularly worried about Krowly's fate, because she "commented" directly underneath his comments in support of his opinion.

She has hired an attorney.
Please note that this comes from (which means it's not a true story)!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Take more care when charging for 'time spent' on clients' affairs

As reported by an anonymous contributor on AccountingWeb, using the pseudonym 'Welsh dragon':
We took over a client a few years ago. The reason he had decided to move was that on Christmas eve he had telephoned his accountant and said to him that he and a few colleagues were in the pub next to the accountant's offices and would the accountant like to join them. The accountant said "no".
Next time the client received a bill from the accountant he noticed that he had been charged for the accountant taking that 'phone call.
That single entry cost the accountant a client - and no, it wasn't the well known firm of Scrooge & Marley.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The 12 days of Taxmas - a reworked Christmas Carol

First line: On the first day of Taxmas the taxman sent to me:
- A rejection of my time to pay plea

The second verse:

On the second day of Taxmas, the taxman sent to me
- Two demand notes and
- A rejection of my time to pay plea

...and so forth. The last verse is:

On the twelfth day of Taxmas, the taxman sent to me
Twelve months to pay my debt
Eleven penalty charges
Ten confusing statements of account
Nine booklets on 'How to complain'
Eight explanatory leaflets
Seven website links
Six excuses for the delay
Five more queries
Four VAT returns to file
Three blank tax returns
Two demand notes and
One reluctant acceptance of my time to pay plea.

When I had the idea for this I checked online and found there was an old US version of the 12 days of Taxmas. Mine was developed independently.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

An Accountant dies and goes to heaven

An Accountant dies and goes to heaven. Saint Peter starts asking him all the usual questions required to get into heaven.

The accountant, it seems, has repeatedly helped people cheat on their taxes and embezzle funds. Finally, in exasperation, St Peter asks, “Well, have you ever done anything good, anything totally unselfish and altruistic in your entire life?”

“Well,” says the accountant, “Once I saw this pretty lady being beaten up by a bunch of hoodies. So I yelled “Hey jerks, why don’t you pick on somebody your own size” and then I reached for my mobile phone to call the police, and took off running. They forgot about her for a second and she managed to run also.

Saint Peter asks, “I’m looking through the book of your life, and I don’t see this incident recorded. When did it occur?”

The accountant replies, “About five minutes ago.”

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Ten arguments used to justify NOT filing tax returns

The following were the ten points argued by a Mr Bell in letters to HMRC and the lower tier Tax Tribunal recently as to why he considers that he is not required to file tax returns:

(1) As all humans are created equal, government and the making of legislation requires the consent of the governed

(2) As a result of the UK joining the EEC, the UK has ceded its sovereignty to (what is now) the EU. In doing so it acted dishonestly and abused the process of law making to pursue a course of action which is contrary to its primary purpose thereby negating the sole source of its legitimacy. Laws promulgated by Parliament therefore no longer have the consent of the governed and are therefore no longer binding.

(3) All humans have an absolute right to own property which is gained as a result of their own efforts. Taxation is necessary to pay for government service. Rightful taxation can only be by contract as payment for government service. Since the UK government and Parliament are no longer responsible for the governance of the UK, taxation imposed by HMRC is coercive seizure of rightfully held property and cannot be justified.

(4) As the transfer of sovereignty from Parliament to the EU was effected without the consent of the people, the people have a right to challenge Parliament's actions, and Mr Bell therefore has a right to refuse to file income tax returns.

(5) Cessation of control over borders and the subordination of the UK's legal system to that of the EU effectively dissolves the UK. The UK no longer exists as a separate legal entity.

(6) It is essential that HMRC issue Mr Bell with a statement that they recognise that it is the right of the UK people to govern themselves, and that every individual owns the right to property. Failure to do so demonstrates total absence of bone fide intent on the part of HMRC, in that they are knowingly complicit in Parliament's attempts to strip us of these fundamental rights through the machinery of the law

(7) The EU constitution is the constitution of a totalitarian state

(8) EU regulations routinely require specific performance

(9) Liberty is valued second only to life itself

(10) Peaceful resolution of dispute requires submission to reason

Bell v Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs [2009] UKFTT 270 (TC)

Monday, December 07, 2009

2049 - A vision of the tax side of the accountancy profession

AccountancyAge kindly asked me to supply 100 words on what the tax profession might look like in 40 years time. They published my vision last week.

Imagine my surprise to note that the only other tax vision they published was that of Dave Hartnett who took the invitation a little more seriously than did I. Here's what I have forecast.
There will be only two remaining professional bodies for tax agents. Businesses
will tend to seek tax advice from registered accountants but private clients
will prefer registered tax advisers as tax is more important to them than
accountancy. Registered tax advisers will typically work alone or be employed by registered accountants, by lawyers or by big brands such as RAAC, Tescobury, InsurancesDirect, The National Bank or The European Public Library and Computer Service. All registered tax advisers will have a revenue officer liaison opposite (ROLO) as their direct contact point in His Majesty’s Revenue Collection Service.

What do you think?

Friday, December 04, 2009

Ten famous people who were nearly accountants

All of the following trained to be accountants - in some cases, not for very long but found fame through other talents and skills:
  1. Arnold Brown - "Possibly the only Glaswegian Jewish ex-chartered accountant stand up comedian in the world".
  2. Eddie Izzard - failed accountancy student who turned to surreal stand-up comedy and acting. His father was Harold Izzard, a former president of the institute of internal auditors and chief auditor of BP.
  3. Robert Plant - gave up accountancy training to sing for the rock band Led Zeppelin.
  4. David Graveney OBE - former chairman of the England Test selectors (1997 until 2008).
  5. John Grisham - the novelist is well known for being a lawyer prior to his writing career. His first degree however was in Accounting from Mississippi State University.
  6. Bob Newhart - American funny man who got his first job out of the army working as an accountant in downtown Chicago.
  7. Alan ("Fluff") Freeman - DJ Alan Freeman worked as an assistant paymaster/accountant for one of Australia's largest timber companies after leaving school.
  8. Pádraig Harrington - the Irish professional golfer passed his final exams in 1994 to gain admittance to ACCA.
  9. Fred MacAulay - the Scottish Comedian graduated from the University of Dundee with an MA in accountancy and jurisprudence. He went on to work as an accountant in a number of companies before moving into Comedy.
  10. Ron Moody - British actor probably best known for playing the part of Fagin in the stage and film versions of Oliver, he originally trained to be an accountant at the London School of Economics.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Unleash your inner accountant

BMW ads have featured this line for around 12 months but I saw it for the first time only yesterday.

What is it trying to say to the reader?

What accountant-like qualities are being implied?

All views welcome - by way of comments below please.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The wages of sin...

"The wages of sin are death, but by the time taxes are taken out, it's just sort of a tired feeling"

- Paula Poundstone (American Stand up Comedienne) - as reported on twitter by @DianeKennedyCPA