Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 2018

Married at First Sight: Accountants stuck in a bad marriage

What follows is an entertaining analysis of the merger of two accounting bodies as if they had met and married in 2014 in a lavish ceremony agreed by their respective members.
Together, the lovers formed CAANZ, an alluring acronym which stands for Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand.  The great promise of this matrimony of professional bodies, as laid down in the nuptial documents, otherwise known as the Explanatory Memorandum to the merger, has not lived up to its vows.  Perhaps it is a case of haste to the alter. NZICA appeared only borderline solvent before the marriage. It was the ugly duckling which somehow married a swan, albeit a worn out old swan, with sweet talk and forget-me-nots in an Explanatory Memorandum. As the private equity turnaround merchants say: “You only have to look good for the wedding day.”  Since the nuptials,  the New Zealand bride seems to have been on a frolic with the marital credit card, spending up in the Shaky Isles and apparently taking li…

Do accountants laugh?

"Do accountants laugh?" was a question posed online by top Comedy Magician, John Archer ahead of a gig for accountants.

Among the replies he received were:
It depends on their clientsOnly where they lose their balanceWhen it's at someones else's expenseYes, when their balance sheet balancesAs soon as you pay their bill

A new supplementary page for SA tax returns: Application for Mercy

Original is on the clever and fun official looking (but fake) website promoting a book published by Ian Vince:The Department of Social Scrutiny

How many accountants are witch doctors doing magic?

In a 1964 speech British law lord, Lord Justice Harman, told an audience: ‘Accountants are the witch doctors of the modern world and willing to turn their hands to any kind of magic.’
I note that this quote has appeared on dozens of firms of accountants' websites.

(You need to know me to know why that quote so appeals to me. There's a clue in this much earlier posting on this blog)


What do taxi drivers know about tax?

Many years ago I travelled by train to Penrith in Cumbria, to present a talk to the local CIOT branch. In the cab I then took to reach the venue the driver asked me what I was doing in Penrith and I explained:
“I’m here to give a lecture to a group of tax advisers”. For a moment I was thrown as he seemed very miffed. It then became clear from his reply that he had misheard me: “It would be nice to have been invited. I’ve been a taxi driver here for over ten years!” I was unable to keep a straight face!
I shared the story during my talk and at the tea-break one of the delegates came over to explain she’d had a similar problem recently.
When arranging her car insurance by phone, she was astonished by the premium quote. It was more than 8 times what she had paid the previous year. She queried the figure and was told this was due to her profession, and the risks inherent in this. “What are the inherent risks of being a tax adviser?” she asked. At which point it became apparent the insurer…

Yes Prime Minister - How the Treasury work out how much tax to raise

In January 1986 the political comedy " Yes Prime Minister" featured an episode "The Smokescreen" in which The Prime Minister, Jim Hacker, favours abolishing smoking through heavy taxation but he runs into strong opposition from the tobacco lobby and the Treasury department.
The following exchange between the PM and his permanent secretary seemed especially worthy of inclusion on this blog:

Sir Humphrey: Taxation isn't about what you need.
Jim Hacker: Oh, what is it about?
Sir Humphrey: Prime Minister, the Treasury doesn't work out what they need to spend and then think how to raise the money.
Jim Hacker: What does it do?
Sir Humphrey: They pitch for as much as they think they can get away with and then think what to spend it on.

Here's the whole episode if you're interested. At the start Sir Humphrey explains his view as to how all new Prime Ministers want to cut either taxes or public expenditure.....

Don't Cha Wish Your Accountant Was Cool Like This

Well done Accountant Annette Ferguson.  Great video revealing those thins Accountants NEVER say - and with good reason!

Are HMRC scared of witches putting spells on them?

Some years back the Romanian government passed a law to tax the income of witches, fortune tellers, and astrologers.

Associated Press had previously reported that Romanian senators rejected a proposal to tax witches and fortune tellers. The suggestion was that they were scared of hearing those feared words:
"Abracadabra, we'll turn all of you into toads!" At that time the draft law would have required witches and fortune tellers to produce receipts, and would also have held them liable for wrong predictions!

The BBC then reported that the witches were using cat excrement and dead dogs to cast spells on the government for making them pay income tax. Apparently Magic and superstition in Romania are taken very seriously. The president and his aides wear purple on Thursdays, allegedly to ward off evil spirits.

Somehow I can't imagine HMRC being worried about wrong predictions. They get enough of these from 'experts' ;-)

Abracadabra - economics and tax

"Abracadabra, thus we learn the more you create, the less you earn.  The less you earn, the more you're given, the less you lead, the more you're driven, the more destroyed, the more they feed, the more you pay, the more they need, the more you earn, the less you keep, And now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to take, if the tax-collector hasn't got it before I wake."
Ogden Nash, American Poet, 1902-1971

A Valentine message for an Accountant

Debits are left Credits are right When I looked at you Love at first sight.
Roses are Red Violets are Blue Balanced Ledgers Have me thinking of you
Unbalanced Accounts 
Are near misses Perfect though
Are your hugs and kisses
Fraud makes me sad You make me glad
Please be my Accountant Valentine

How to simplify the PAYE system (or not!)

I'm told that an official from HMRC, who wishes to remain anonymous, has identified two key changes that would simplify our PAYE system and avoid most problems:
Stop anyone from having more than one job at a time; andOnly allow people to change jobs at midnight on 5 April each year. No - I don't think they were serious.
Do you have any other ideas in a similar vein?

Analogies for how HMRC operates

If HMRC ran a cafĂ© it would drag passers-by in from the street,  force them to cook their own lunch,  then fine them for overcooking the eggs. 
Two weeks later, it would dispatch a leaflet explaining that cooking eggs is easy!  But doubling the fine.

This analogy formed part of Richard Godwin's Comment piece in The London Evening Standard on 21 December 2011.

Can you do better?

"Now that's what I call Tax Advice!"

Years ago I spoke at a large ACCA meeting at the Fairfield Halls in Croydon. Just before I was introduced, Steve, an eagle eyed accountant asked me about the third set of initials after my name on the title slide projected on the screen. After my FCA and CTA (Fellow) I had included MMC.

I explained this was a bit of fun as they are the designatory letters for members of The Magic Circle (and, yes, I am a member, indeed, I am now The Treasurer). Steve then told me that he had an unusual hobby too. He said he was a poet.

The following day I received an email from Steve containing a poem he had written for me to deliver. I loved it - but never performed it as I can't do all the tricks he references!

The Third Person to Ask (aka : Now That’s What I Call Tax Advice) Though it is true I can produce a rabbit from a hat I’d rather extol savings from the flat rate scheme for VAT The sleight of hand required in Three Card Monte I do know But ways to grow your practice is what I’d prefer to sh…

Another accountant goes to the doctor.....

An accountant knocks on the door of the local GP's surgery and walks in.
"Hello, doctor. Please help. I just don't know what's wrong with me. Goodbye." With that the accountant turns around and walks out.
30 seconds later they are back. "Hello again, doctor. Please help. I just don't know what's wrong with me."

The Doctor looks up from his desk and asks: Are you an accountant?"

"Yes"

 "Ok, In that case I think it's obvious. You have a serious case of double entry."

An accountant goes to the doctor.....

"Doctor, doctor, I've taken the medicine you prescribed but it's not working. What should I do?"
"Try using your calculator."
"How will that help?"
"I'm not sure, but it's something you can count on".