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Latest news

HMRC Task Forces on the march

HMRC announced back last year that they would be creating 12 Task Forces which would be geographically specific and carry out intensive bursts of compliance activity into high risk trade sectors.


A further 6 task forces have just recently been announced following the success of an attack on restaurants in London, Scotland and the North West of England. Over 530 businesses were investigated and unpaid tax of almost £700k identified in just 10% of the total and 22 business owners now face prosecution and potentially a prison sentence. 2 restaurant owners were detained in Edinburgh and subjected to interview as part of the Scottish element of the investigations.

The 6 new task forces announced are:

HMRC stays in the news

They do say that no publicity is bad publicity its just how you handle it that makes the difference.


I don't feel sorry for HMRC's latest bit of bad publicity, suggesting that they are going to write off £1.5billion of old, unpaid taxes. A whistleblower inside HMRC confirmed that the focus was on debts that were under two years old and on refunds due but now HMRC spokesperson says that this is not the case.

Enemy of Apathy

Today in The Herald, there was an article about general taxpayer ignorance and apathy about our glorious tax system coinciding with the inexcusable failure of HMRC to properly manage their affairs - our affairs. If you want to check out the online version of the article, it's here.


It made me wonder just a little if maybe I could help with reducing ignorance by publishing some practical and simple information. As far as the apathy goes, I can do nothing about that!

Tax notices - who's right?

If you get what looks like a tax demand in the next few days, don't panic. It's merely a statement of what the taxman thinks you owe them or that he owes you.


If you are one of our clients, simply send what you receive to us and we will check it for you.

How long does it take to change 150,000 lightbulbs?



Less time than it takes to process a tax return. By today's date our friendly chimpanzee could have changed close on 150,000 lightbulbs.

Size is not everything

One of the penalties of being an accountant is having to keep up to date with the latest in taxation and in case you maybe hadn't heard, the UK's tax laws are among the most extensive and complex in the world.

That means of course that far from making it easy to get a simple answer to a simple question, it is sometimes difficult in figuring out what the question is. Even if you know what the question is the HMRC website (which must rank alongside bbc.co.uk in terms of its size) the chances of the search engine taking you to anything close to the answer are remote in the least.

VAT Registration

Many people ask me the same kinds of questions about VAT registration and what it boils down to are these two FAQs:

1. When do I need to register?

2. What’s the sales I need to have to register?

Budget 2010

The budget - the last for Alistair Darling - has now been announced for 24th March. Don’t expect this to be a radical policy driven budget. I suspect this will be a moderate post recession budget with an eye to the 6th May General Election. What you need to consider are what happens AFTER the election.

PAYE computer systems

Yesterday, Moneybox live on BBC Radio 4 reported the problems with the HMRC PAYE computer system. You can read the article here. The programme went on to discuss one aspect of policy proposed by the Conservatives which is that they would remove the PAYE burden from employers by using the BACS system. BACS is the payment system used by most people when they pay bills through their bank account.

How to lose weight without really trying

It all started the day I came back from holiday. 22nd October 2009. Maureen and I had just had a really peaceful week in Orlando – if you ignore the hurly burly of shopping and Busch Gardens that is. The letter in the usual brown envelope was waiting for me. You can tell when it’s a real letter these days as opposed to a laser printed automatic one ‘cos its printed on a grey sort of coloured paper. Maybe that makes it environmentally friendly. But these kinds of letters aren’t usually friendly. Friendly is how they read; friendly is how the language sounds but friendly it aint.