Letters – 12 February

I am certainly not a bastard

I am surprised you printed the letter from James G Fluss (‘Letters’, 5 February) unedited, unless you intended to provoke further reaction to the Tim Smith debacle. I may be callous in believing Mr Smith should have been expelled from the Institute, but I am not, as far as I am aware, a bastard.

Mr Fluss, irrespective of whether the points he raises are right or wrong, should apologise for introducing unnecessarily provocative language into the debate.

M G Robins FCA,

Throw out the paperwork

I read your leader page (29 January) with great interest. Jon Bunn’s excellent article underlines the inherent problems.

I agree there should be more resources but, in addition, much less paperwork as the following horrific story describes.

A longstanding client of mine admitted a young partner into his business on 1 May 1997. At that time the CWF1 was completed and sent to the DSS.

In January 1998 we decided to seek a clearance from the Inland Revenue that the new partner would not be liable to SA 1996/97 and our stock response was another from CWF1, this time issued by the Tax Office.

The Revenue subsequently wrote on 22 January 1998 telling us that the original CWF1 was received on 19 July 1997 via DSS, a record had been set up showing commencement of partnership at 1 May 1997 and firmly advising that no 1996/97 SA Return for this client which he received on 29 January 1998.

In my opinion, if there were fewer forms and more people bothered to read them and action them, the entire system would not be in a state of mess that we currently have to battle against.

Finally, and fearful of a computerised fine, I had to undertake a trip to hand deliver the SA return in time for the 31 January deadline.

Does anyone know if I can buy shares in the company printing all these different forms? Surely this time next year I could be a millionaire.

Alan D Houghton, Newton le Willows, Lancashire

Crossing into private sector

I am one of many accountants with employment in the public sector. I anxiously read your appointment pages every week in an attempt to cross over to the private sector where I think my qualification will be more relevant and my professional ambition fulfilled – as a chartered management accountant.

The irony is that I get the impression that industry and commerce are unwilling to appoint accountants with public sector experience into the commercial environment.

I am beginning to wonder what image industry and commerce have of the competence and professionalism of accountants within public sector financial environment.

Lack of success in this respect for me has not been for lack of trying, and I wonder how many other people are in this situation. Is this a myth or can anyone advise?

D A Fadipe, Middlesex

Hermits are well-informed

Your article concerning self-assessment (‘Snowed under’, 29 January) refers to an Outer Hebridean hermit not knowing about the new tax regime. I think that this is an insult, not only to the Scots but also that the islands must be full up with Revenue officials who do not know what is going on in the real world.

To suggest that the profession is stockpiling, or has been stockpiling, returns is complete and utter rubbish. For the last month staff and partners in my firm have been working up to 70 hours a week, including evenings and weekends, to ensure that returns are completed and submitted on time.

From talking to other professionals, I think this pattern is being repeated in many other offices.

Let the Revenue believe what they want to believe if it helps them justify the way in which the new system has implemented but they should not blame problems on the profession.

G Crane, FCA, Pinkney Keith Gibbs, Uxbridge, Middlesex

So the square does fit, then

Your artist, in drawing his Merger Mania logo, (page 1, 22 January) obviously believes that the mergers will work. The square peg’s diagonal measurements are actually the diameter of the round hole. Thus, the peg will fit into the hole, albeit not very cosily.

Perhaps he ought to have made the diameter of the hole equal to the distance across the peg’s faces in which case the fit would have been significantly less successful, if not impossible.

Richard G Hall, Wedmore, Somerset

Where did he go wrong?

What is it that Tim Smith has done wrong?

At the same time as he was accepting payments from Al Fayed, senior figures in the English ICA were preaching that members should increase charging rates and improve value added. He merely seems to have been more successful in this than the majority of members.

Should he be disciplined for making members jealous?

You refer to the acceptance by Smith of covert payments, yet how many members of the institute have not had private clients whose existence has not been declared to their then employers? This may only be the local church accounts or corner grocer but the principle is the same. Smith merely found a more profitable grocer!

If we are to be concerned with those who have been found out by the press, what action should the institute take in respect of the lottery regulator and ex-auditor who accepted travel and accommodation from associates of G-Tech, which would appear to breach the fundamental principles of professional ethics in relation to integrity, objectivity and independence?

As the institute itself breached those same principles in allowing its premises to be used for political purposes during an election it is understandable that the institute should find the disciplinary pursuit of these cases embarrassing.

W L L Lambeth, Lambert Lambeth, Edenbridge, Kent

Cooper’s book for bedtime

David Lang asks (‘Letters’, 22 January) what book to give his grandson to see what an accountant is. I recommend VRV Cooper’s classic, Manual of Auditing. I kept a copy by my bed as a sure cure for insomnia, and I am sure my children must have read it and seen what an accountant is, as they both grew up to have proper jobs instead. For that alone I am grateful for Mr Cooper’s book.

Duncan Heenan FCA, Sulby, Isle of Man

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