Friday, January 29, 2010

HMRC involved in offshore banking scam?

I paid my self assessment tax online today using a debit card through HMRC's website.
Within minutes I received a warning security text from my bank telling me that my debit card had been used to make an overseas transaction. I should call if I'm concerned.

Well - I was concerned that HMRC might somehow be involved in some offshore banking scam.

So I called LloydsTSB. Seems the text message was a mistake. Paying the taxman does not, after all, involve an overseas transaction! Phew.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Daft financial acronyms and acrostics

  • DEBITS = Desperate Executives Broken by Insider Trading
  • EBITDA = Earnings Before I Tricked the Dumb Auditor
  • EBIT = Earnings Before Irregularities and Tampering
  • LOMBARD = Lots Of Money But A Right Dick
  • CEO = Chief Embezzlement Officer
  • CFO = Corporate Fraud Officer
  • NABRO = Not Another Bloody Regulatory Organisation
  • NAV = Normal Andersen Valuation
  • EPS = Eventual Prison Sentence
  • FRS = Fantasy Reporting Standards
  • P/E = Parole Entitlement
  • FIMBRA = Federation of Investment Malpractitioners and Big-time Rip-off Artists
  • ISA = Interesting Savings Alternative
  • ASB = Adding-up Silly Balances
Any more?

Monday, January 25, 2010

The IRS Tapes: Who'll Buy My Memories?

True Story: The Country and Western singer, Willie Nelson, had well publicised tax troubles that started in 1984, when the IRS began looking into his returns stretching back to 1972.

He sued his accountants PriceWaterhouse, contending that they put him into structured tax avoidance schemes that were later disallowed. The lawsuit was settled for an undisclosed amount, and his debts were paid by 1993.

The IRS were unwilling to await the outcome of the litigation and had pursued Willie to pay an agreed liability of $6 million in back taxes, plus more than $10 million in penalties and interest.

The IRS seized most of his assets to help pay the charges. Willie then released The IRS Tapes: Who'll Buy My Memories? as a double album, with all profits going straight to the IRS.

Friday, January 22, 2010

HMRC fails to turn up to receive award for Best Public Policy decision

It's not often that a post on this blog dovetails with a post on the more serious TaxBuzz blog. This time however the fun bit is effectively a postscript to this posting: HMRC wins Best public policy decision of the year.

The shortlist for the award contained 9 names and one can only imagine that HMRC did not expect to win. According to this report in the Telegraph, no one was present to receive the award from Host Sanjeev Bhaskar.

Apparently the organisers went ahead with the obligatory 'winners' photo though, with the host, someone from the sponsoring company and a gap in the middle.

"You can insert the winner in there later," Sanjeev suggested helpfully.

He had another suggestion for what could plug the gap – unprintable in a family newspaper – and unless it belonged to an elephant, not large enough to fill the space.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Ten failed excuses for not paying your taxes

The taxman has heard it all before. Taxpayers frequently offer the same old excuses when they get caught failing to disclose all their taxable income :
  1. "Everybody does it....... don't they?"
  2. "I was ill, I had a nervous breakdown"
  3. "It was a present from an old uncle who's dead now"
  4. "How did you find out that? I thought no one would ever know"
  5. "It's not that serious..... is it?"
  6. "It's offshore, so it doesn't count...... does it?"
  7. "I won it playing poker"
  8. "Hypothetically speaking, what if I did?"
  9. "I met this guy on a plane and he said it was alright"
  10. "Pardon Mois, mais je ne parle pas le Franglais"
Do you have any other favourites?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Revenue fine man re his involvement with Moira Stuart

This was posted on the News Biscuit site - which covers the "The news before it happens"!

"She’s been in there so long I completely forget to include her in my self-assessment form," said Mr Chesney Benson, of Hunstanton. "Of course I now realise that I should have declared her, but she’s so quiet, hidden away in the cupboard. I barely know she’s there. I only ever see her when I get the Hoover out."

"We get a lot of people forgetting to declare Moira Stuart," said an HMRC representative, "but any income gained from having a newscaster living in the house is, of course, liable to tax."

This year HMRC are believed to be cracking down heavily on people failing to declare live-in newscasters. "Of course there are some grey areas," said Radio 4’s Money Box presenter, Vincent Duggleby, "For example, a lot of people are claiming that having Natasha Kaplinsky in the house doesn’t count because she’s not a proper newsreader. The jury is still out on that one."

"I never had this trouble with Adam Hart Davis," said Mr Benson, "When he was living with me, you always knew he was there, making a nuisance of himself, cycling round and round the living room in his Day-Glo pants telling me to fill in my form. They say tax doesn’t have to be taxing but he certainly was."

People still have until 31st January to file their Self-Assessment online. However, the HMRC say that if they have any suspicions they will be sending round a tax inspector to check under the stairs.

Monday, January 11, 2010

"I don't know what I'm paying for" (Taxman)

As sung by Lucky Dube
I pay my gardener
To clean up my garden
I pay my doctor
To check out da other ting
I pay my lawyer
To fight for my rights
And I pay my bodyguard
To guard my body
There' s only one man I pay
But I don' t know what I' m paying for
I' m talking about the taxman x3
Chorus: (x4)
What have you done for me lately
Mr taxman
You take from the rich
Take from the poor
You even take from me
Can' t understand it now
I pay for the police
To err..I don' t know why
'Cause if my dollar was good enough
There wouldn't be so much crime
In the streets
They tell me you' re a fat man
And you always take and
Never give
Chorus till fade

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Writing to new clients acquired on a merger

I was asked for my advice recently ie: What should be in the letter that an accountant was sending to the clients of the old practice that he was acquiring through a merger (in reality it was more of a mergeover).

I suggested that the starting point was to consider what the clients would want to hear/see and what messages the accountant wanted to get across.

The accountant said he wants clients to:
  • confirm they'll continue to pay him at least what they paid the predecessor practice
  • supply all their information promptly
  • not phone him daily
  • pay extra fees if they supply tax return information in January
  • not look around and move elsewhere without giving him at least a chance
We concluded none of the above could go into the first letter from new accountant!

What would you like to say to new clients acquired on a merger, takeover or mergeover?

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

New Year twitter titters - accountants and tax

New year titters from twitter that deserve a mention on this blog:

When Bono was born, a tax accountant, a media lawyer and a publicist brought gifts of money, money and money to his gold baby throne

blue sky, crisp winter day, what on earth could spoil it. Hmmm, this letter from my accountant showing corp tax and SATR due, happy new year

Busy all day! Beaten tax return into shape but owing to complexity of 08/09 fin.year (and by idiocy of former employer), off to accountant.

Trying to organize tax stuff. Building and filling spreadsheets. Can't wait to try & find all my supply receipts. TG I got an accountant!

Can't seem to locate the receipt I left on my desk before I took my holiday leave and the accountant's bugging me like crazy - HOLD ON!

I'm supposed to be adding up receipts for my tax return but instead I'm typing this.
@RealDMitchell (yup - The Real David Mitchell - from PeepShow and Mitchell & Webb)

I accidentally laundered 15 pounds! Take that, inland revenue!

Tax return done. Yes. Dear Inland Revenue, I hate you with a passion usually reserved only for cold callers and people who say "should of"

I *really* wish the Inland Revenue's Self Assessment guidance notes were available in a language other than pure gibberish.

Accountant seems to say I'm a very good photographer - which must be why I have unexpectedly large tax bill to pay by 31 Jan. Oh dear...

Monday, January 04, 2010

The Unbelievable Truth - Tax

On the Radio 4 show, The Unbelievable Truth, Panellists are required to tell lies about a subject and to try and smuggle a few truths past their fellow pannelists as they do so.

During the New Year Special, John Lloyd had to speak on the subject of "Tax".

He told a number of contrived tales that included lies, perhaps the best of which was that in Scotland income tax day is commonly known as Hog Money.

Alleged truths smuggled past include:
  • Bagpipes can enter America tax free
  • On the day PAYE was to be introduced, Sir Kinglsey Wood, the pioneer of PAYE collapsed and died.
A fascinating 'truth' shared during the programme concerned German tax collector Karl Doberman who was (unsurprisingly) not welcome when he went to collect money. To protect himself he bred large fierce dogs that became known as Doberman pinschers.

Panel show host David Mitchell added the observation that in the first century, tax hungry Emperor Nero went so far as to impose a tax on the collection of urine. Apparently he was widely considered to be taking the piss.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Plans for a new sexy tax...

I found this on One hopes it hasn't been seen by anyone influential.....
The chancellor will set his stall ahead of the election by turning the tap on clear red water between Labour and the Conservatives with a new sexy tax.

Backed by Presbyterian PM Gordon Brown, Darling will announce a new sexy tax to plug the £12 trillion hole in the public finances.

Lap dancing clubs will face a 18 per cent sexy tax on tips and champagne, as the government looks to target bankers' bonuses through indirect taxation.

Saucy nurses outfits will also be taxed, as recession Britain under Labour will become "pure and puritan", the chancellor will say.

Labour backbenchers have hit out at the plans.

Clement Spatula, Labour MP for Worcester and Hove, said: "Many working class men love heading down to titty bars for an escape from the drudgery of their meaningless existence, just as bankers do.

"For many women, erotic dancing is the only option to step off a life of benefits."

George Osborne, shadow Tory monger, said: "Daddy told me about these places once."

The sexy tax will be enforced by the new sexy tax taskforce, at HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

Bea Kangar, chief sexy taxlady, said: "Collecting this tax is making me so hot. I'll have to take off this cardigan.

"My team of civil servants will be measuring how sexy is Britain is and taxing people hard."

HMRC has also launched a website where people can subscribe to exclusive coverage of the sex tax taskforce, which is expected to raise £100 million over four years.

Brits can use self-assessment forms to rate their sexiness, or have the sexy tax staff come round and check, which will cost £99.

Peter Stringyfellow said: "I am declaring myself bankrupt as there is no way I could afford the sexy tax, as I am so sexy. I reckon I would be in the top band of sexy people."