News in Brief – 22 July

Taxpayer wins the day

A tax tribunal is understood to have found in favour of the taxpayer in a dispute about self-assessment investigation notifications which erupted over the deadline for starting enquiries into a return. The row centred on the exact meaning of the 30 January deadline earlier this year.

Taxman drops appeal cases The Inland Revenue has dropped two appeal cases concerning provisions made by businesses. They are the Herbert Smith case on future rent provisions and the Jenners case on repairs provisions. The decision moves the tax treatment of provisions closer to UK GAAP.

Long wait in Maxwell case Buchler Phillips and its lawyers Wilde Sapte will have to wait until October to appeal the £50,000 fees paid to chief taxing master Hurst who was appointed by Mr Justice Ferris to examine the insolvency practice’s charges in its receivership of the Maxwell estate. The firms have been asked to appeal the fees because they threaten the estate’s remaining funds.

Fire Board feels heat The Scottish Accounts Commission found ‘significant financial difficulties’ and a lack of close management over the accounting function at the Grampian Fire Board following a report into the 1996/97 and 1997/1998 audits. Although audit controller Robert Black stressed action has since been taken, the auditors will be reviewing progress and have been told to report any continuing concerns.

Task force on audit rise English ICA vice president Michael Groom is leading a task force to examine the implications of raising the audit threshold for small companies from the current turnover level of £350,000. The institute is holding a series of debates on the exemption level, starting at Moorgate Place at 5.00pm on Thursday 29 July.

MBA gets a bit easier Qualified accountants will be exempted from certain financial courses in a new MBA course being offered by Henley Management College and the Financial Training Company. The two-year evening course will be taught at FTC’s base in London. The finance modules from which accountants are to be exempted will run from January to March, leaving qualified students free to concentrate on work during their busy period.

Amber light for Revenue The Inland Revenue received an ‘amber’ classification in a year 2000 assessment by IT consultants for the National Infrastructure Forum. The study identified ‘some risk’ of material disruption to collection of income and corporation tax, but acknowledged containment plans were in place. The Revenue is expected to attain ‘blue’ status by September.

VAT group warning Deloitte & Touche has warned that changes in the Finance Bill to give Customs & Excise the power to remove companies from VAT groups will cause major uncertainty for the business community. Customs will be able to refuse applications for group treatment within 90 days of getting applications and will be able to remove companies from a group registration if it considers it necessary to protect the Inland Revenue.

ACCA hosts conference ACCA hosted an international conference last week with representatives of the World Bank, the United Nations and regional and national professional accountancy bodies to discuss how national accountancy qualifications can be made more relevant. The UN has issued a benchmark guideline using ACCA’s syllabus as a basis and it was agreed that other accounting qualifications should be assessed against this benchmark. The government has been warned to tighten audit arrangements for further education colleges after the Southampton Institute lost ?m on foreign ventures.

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