TaxPersonal TaxLetters – 29 April

Letters - 29 April

Repressed Stalinist tendencies

I was interested in Mr Williams’ comments on tax penalties (15 April,’Comment’). When I was studying law some years ago, there was a maxim that penalty damages could only be imposed by a court of law.

Now everybody seems to be imposing penalties on everyone else, and it is getting out of hand. For example, the maximum penalty for making a false declaration by declaring Statutory Off Road Notification for a motor vehicle when a vehicle is actually used or kept unlicensed on a public road is £5,000 and two years’ imprisonment.

Under ‘trust me’ Blair’s control freak regime we get ever more regulation and are in danger of becoming as repressed as any Stalinist state, the only difference being that the knock on the door in the early hours is replaced by extortionate fines.

David Milligan FCA, Andover, Hants

Euro for UK business Messrs Haslam and Keymer display an amazing level of arrogance to claim the credit for killing off compulsory current cost accounting (15 April, ‘Letters’).

What really happened was that the government of the day realised that by illustrating current replacement costs, rather than historical costs, corporate taxation would be seen to be excessive. Accordingly, it killed off CCA and became obsessive about tackling inflation.

Now our champion campaigners want to prevent the UK joining the euro, using the old excuse of ‘total loss of sovereignty’, when the reality is we have not had economic sovereignty since we came off the gold standard.

Joining the euro is something we must do if we are to remain competitive within a global economy. No longer would our exporting manufacturing industry suffer from a strong pound and no longer would our citizens be ripped off every time they wanted to take a continental holiday.

I am considering forming an action group within my institutes to campaign for joining EMU. Anyone interested in joining such a group can email me on: In the meantime, I suggest that messrs Haslam and Keymer get into their gunboat and sail off in the sunset.

Malcolm Howard FCMA FCCA, Banstead, Surrey

Comments, please Our recent letter explaining our wish to form an action group within the institute to retain the pound and to campaign actively against joining the EMU has produced some interesting comments from your readers.

We would be delighted to hear from other readers, both those who support us and those against, and in particular those with constructive ideas for furthering our campaign.

Martin Haslam FCA & David Keymer FCA FTII, Sussex

A good case for research I was delighted to see that Martin Haslam and David Keymer are considering forming an action group within the institute to campaign against joining EMU. Their reputation is proof of how effective they are, and that they do not give up easily.

Such a campaign would be effective in countering the CBI’s consistent line that business is pro-euro. The accountancy profession is well placed to shed some light on the issue. Good work is being done by organisations like Business for Sterling and the European Research Group in assembling authoritative research on the subject. As far as I know, no-one has assembled a well-researched case in favour of joining.

I would, though, suggest to Messrs Haslam and Keymer that they consider affiliating their group to one of the existing organisations such as Business for Sterling, rather than adding yet another independent group to the plethora of anti-euro groups already existing.

Good luck to them.

KJ Worthy, Esher, Surrey

Education and training Your report (15 April) of growing support for John Cook’s motion against the English ICA’s education and training proposals is alarming if it reflects the opinion of most institute members. The institute’s qualification has lost ground against competing qualifications in recent years, and the institute’s latest proposals represent a sensible way forward to achieving a well-regarded qualification which meets the needs of students and their employers.

Concern about the existence of options or electives is difficult to understand from an educational perspective. Few members would expect their children to enter into university courses which did not contain options – and in universities we would need special reasons to design a course without them.

John Cook’s motion is a recipe for continued uncertainty and a further loss of relative prestige for the English ICA membership qualification.

The design of the new qualification is intended to enable it to become more appropriate for students training in smaller firms of accountants: firms like that of John Cook.

Michael Page, professor of accounting, university of Portsmouth

… An alternative argument is that every student will receive a grounding in a wide range of subjects at the professional stage, will have to study advanced business management and pass the final admitting examination.

The additional choice of two elective advance papers gives students the possibility, for the first time in over 25 years, that in the final stage of their studies they will be dealing mainly with topics that they are likely to be able to use in their office work. This has clear advantages for both students and employers. Furthermore, it will enable the English ICA to set more relevant and practical tests at the advance stage exams.

There is scope for much debate and difference of opinion over the proposals.

But they should be approached with an open mind and the benefits for both large and small training offices should be considered.

Richard Hill FCA, Middlesbrough, Cleveland

Missing the ELS point The article on the Inland Revenue’s attitude to the electronic lodgement system was interesting but everyone seems to have missed the point (15 April).

What we desperately need is the ability to examine our clients’ statements of account on the internet, using a source of information that would be updated daily. This should be available for all clients for whom we have lodged a 64-8, irrespective of whether or not ELS was used.

G Aucott, Croft, Leics

What’s in a letter? My son Alex was amused to see you had published my letter about VAT and charities over his name (15 April), but he has asked that if anybody wants further details, they write to me, not him.

Alec Sandison FCCA, Herts

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