Monday, August 20, 2012

The Danger of Hubris

In its haste to congratulate itself on HMRC's announcement about possibly "recruiting" another 1,000 staff for call centre duty, has the ICAEW forgotten that HMRC promised the self same thing in March 2011?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Membership Derides ICAEW's Stance on Tax Avoidance

The membership of the ICAEW, who have taken Accountancy Age's poll on the ICAEW's stance on tax avoidance, have given the ICAEW a hearty two fingered salute.

Accountancy Age reports that "strong opposition" has been voiced against the ICAEW's move to outline how advising on aggressive tax avoidance is a potential disciplinary matter.
"Three-quarters of the 60 readers polled online by Accountancy Age said they did not agree with the ICAEW's decision, while 17% were completely behind the move. Some 5% agreed, but felt the guidance was too vague, and 3% were unsure."
Doubtless those residing in the ICAEW bunker will be bemused, bewildered and dismissive about the result.

However, those who reside in bunkers would do well to listen to voices outside if they wish to retain office!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

NAO To Audit HMRC's Service Commitments

As I noted on Friday, HMRC have with great fanfare and naive approval of the ICAEW attempted some diversionary tactics by announcing a reallocation (HMRC calls it "investment") of "up to" £34M and a possible extra 1,000 personnel into their call centres.

Whilst the above may satisfy the ICAEW and some naive taxpayers, the NAO are not going to sit idly by. As I note on my HMRC site, the NAO is looking at commitments made under the HMRC’s change programme and will report "in winter 2012" on the service that HMRC’s "customers" receive over the phone, online and in writing.

Monday, August 13, 2012

The ICAEW Stance on Tax Avoidance

Currently, according to the poll hosted by Accountancy Age that asks "Do you agree with the ICAEW's disciplinary stance on tax avoidance?", 84% of respondents say "No, leave it to the tribunals and legislators".

Friday, August 10, 2012

In Which The ICAEW Spouts Utter Nonsense

The ICAEW has fallen for HMRC's PR announcement about new "investment" in its appalling call centre service hook line and sinker.

The idea that the £34M (if that is what will really be spent) is new "investment" is utter nonsense. The money, as I have clearly explained on my HMRC site (and as indeed Lin Homer says), is merely a budget reallocation from other parts of the overall HMRC budget.

This is nothing more than window dressing!

As one commentator wrote on my HMRC site:
"Don't be fooled by the retoric, there's no new money, they are only robbing Peter to pay Paul, there will be some new jobs but the vast majority will be back room staff taken off working on post to answer phones.

They have spent God knows how much revamping the telephones so we're now connected to the CC system.

So telecalls will be answered more quickly but as we all know not everything can be done over the phone and written confirmation or paperwork is required. so the post receipts will go sky high, then the calls will triple cos everyone will want to progress chase and it's back to Square One, thank God I retire shortly

How gullible can the ICAEW be?

Friday, August 03, 2012

ICAEW's Helpsheet On Aggressive Tax Avoidance

The ICAEW has issued a Helpsheet to remind its members of the terms of its own Code of Ethics and its guidance on professional conduct in relation to taxation. The Helpsheet focuses on the "aggressive end" of the tax planning spectrum and provides practical guidance.

It is sad to see that the ICAEW appears to be running scared wrt the tax avoidance witch-hunt orchestrated by dog whistle politicians and the media.

The helpsheet quite correctly states:
"Tax is a question of law and it’s the Government’s job to decide what legal tax planning arrangements it wishes to prevent."
However, it then goes on to imply that members should take a "moral" decision on behalf of third parties (ie clients)  wrt the "morality" or otherwise of legal (subject to a challenge in the courts) arrangements that may or may not reduce their business expenditure (ie taxes).

It would be far more constructive, and beneficial to the nation's finances, if the ICAEW were to set the agenda and push for a simpler tax system which would in effect make these schemes obsolete.