Letters – 15 October

Disclose at your peril!

Regina v W and Another won’t go away. ‘Hansard fears allayed’ proclaims your article (20 August).

I quote the following case which illustrates the attitude of Inland Revenue staff to the pronouncements of their head office.

Page 296 of the April 1996 issue of the Inland Revenue’s own ‘Tax Bulletin’, stated Revenue policy under the heading ‘Early filing of partnership SA returns’ in that ‘we hope that partnerships will file their 1996/1997 partnership SA return as early as possible. These returns will be given priority in tax offices’. It then goes on to give a comprehensive promise to deal with the return, raise enquiries and determine outstanding appeals ‘at that stage’.

I filed a partnership return with Wey Valley East District on 13 June 1997 and I sent a reminder on 7 January 1998 because I had had no response.

On 24 March 1998, over nine months after filing and nearly two months after the latest filing date, the Inspector commenced an enquiry.

When I pointed out that he was out of time because of the promises made in ‘Tax Bulletin’, he chose to ignore me. I complained to the District Inspector who replied ‘It is only the expiry of the period of enquiry (31 January 1999) and not the terms of the ‘Tax Bulletin’ article (my italics) that will determine whether an enquiry can be made’. I then complained to the Regional Office South East, which has now replied that self-assessment has produced pressures on the Revenue that were not foreseen when the April 1996 ‘Tax Bulletin’ was published – and that the enquiry is valid.

So much for promises.

Now that Revenue staff have discovered that the law overrides morality, Machiavelli rules. Voluntarily disclose at your peril.

John Cooke FCA, Bramhall, Stockport

Time to live and let euro! Having been allowed the privilege, along with your other readers, of a brief insight into Malcolm Howard’s mind, (‘Letters’, 1 October), one is left wondering what effect his letter will have on fellow europhiles.

I am quite happy for him to have his euro, as long as it is not forced on me.

TG Knight FCA, ACIS, ACIB, Lee on Solent, Hampshire.

Small firm bashing I never thought I would find myself supporting Spofforths, a competitor on the south coast, but your banner headline (8 October, front page) ‘Spofforths disciplined’ demonstrates a very odd sense of priorities.

On the same page, we have Andersens (former partner institute president Brian Currie) #3m and Coopers (partner institute President Chris Laine) #860m and who tops the bill – Spofforths (institute council member Mark Spofforth) is criticised over a few hundred quid!

I am only a lowly GPB member and, yes, my firm has suffered a consent order in the past – so can I have a headline please?

Bill Arnold FCA, Portsmouth, Hampshire

Mapping the right response Re: Taking Stock (24 September) – ‘Last Chance Saloon’.

Good article – poor geography. Whilst our beleagured town council comes to terms with computerised accounts, perhaps your paper should become familiar with a rather more ancient source of information – a map (preferably one which is annotated North of the Watford Gap). Good hunting.

Phil Triffitt FCA, Thirsk, North Yorkshire

Making an exhibition I was interested to read Ann Baldwin’s article entitled ‘Making an exhibition of it all’ (‘Comment’, 1 October, page16). I feel, however, that it may have misled readers as to the actual nature of the exhibition to which it referred.

The Accountants and Financial Directors Exhibition has been running for seventeen years and is widely regarded as the premier showcase of suppliers to the accountancy profession. In fact, your own publication sponsored it for a number of years. It is not, and never has been, an exhibition of accountants and financial directors, rather aimed at them.

It is a shame, therefore, that the article presented the show as the former, albeit in a flippant context.

Keith Searby, MCIM, MIPR, managing director, Truemist Professional Exhibitions

Real solutions for a real world I would like to support Mike Houldershaw’s suggestion (‘Letters’, 1 October, page 17) to form two institutes, one dealing with accounting and the other with regulated practice.

The only caveat to his suggestion is that training and mentoring is also required for those moving from a ‘tick, bash and walk away’ environment into a role where they have a real impact on the fortunes of people and companies in the real world.

Alan W Scott FCMA, Sudbury, Suffolk

…I certainly agree that the profession needs realism.

I would also agree with Mr Houldershaw’s comments that there are two types of accountants, but he misses the essential point.

Currently, there are qualified accountants and unqualified accountants that providing their services to the world at large.

Until the public is made fully aware of the subtle difference between the two, there will be no progress.

Are there qualified and unqualified solicitors providing their services to the world at large?

Until all qualified accountants stop the moronic ‘which qualification is best’ battle, no progress will be made.

S Ryan FCCA, Maidstone, Kent

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