Getting out of paying tax[QQ] I know this is old news but I would like to voice my opinion. Basically, being self employed seems to be a good way of paying less tax than those of us who are employed, and normally have a ‘usual’ place of work.

The whole nature of personal services consultants is they visit different clients, so why should they be able to offset all related business mileage, etc? Just as the nature of office-based people is to be in the office, but we are penalised as we are unable to offset costs. It is time for this imbalance to be addressed.

Juliet Hurwitt, ACMA, via email

Neglecting to inform us

Why no mention of the fact Equitable Life’s accounts to 31 December 1999 (Audit row hits Equitable, 14 December, page 1) contained only a #200m provision for guaranteed annuity reserves while the liability is now estimated at #1.5bn.

There was also no going concern qualification in the accounts, which surely should have been considered.

Also note Ernst &Young received an Accountancy Age award for best Big Five firm!

BK Rymaszewski, via email

The wrong impression

I am writing to correct the impression given in your article entitled, (Yes, we have no disasters, 7 December, page 11) which alleged ‘CSSA believes public service IT projects should be spared criticism’.

The Computing Services and Software Association is the industry association representing the UK’s IT services and software sector. We currently have over 700 members with combined 1999 revenue of more than #14bn, representing around 80% of the industry by turnover.

CSSA is aware of its responsibilities when it comes to overcoming the problems facing the implementation of government IT projects.

CSSA has never argued that government IT projects should be spared criticism rather we have asserted the public sector environment gives rise to unique difficulties which have to be recognised and dealt with.

To this end, together with the Office of Government Commerce, CSSA established the senior forum. The forum has equal representation from both government and industry and has set out to find solutions to the problems which have plagued IT projects in the past.

We are optimistic the forum will provide real solutions to the problems we currently face. CSSA continues to ensure that the government, UK citizens, businesses and the IT sector all benefit from efficiently and effectively implemented government IT projects.

John Higgins, director general, CSSA

Keegan shoots for UK

Now that the UK Accounting Standards Board has appointed Keegan as its new head, does that mean that we are liable to lose out to German GAAP, after a penalty shoot out?


I write to you as a chartered accountant who has belonged to the ICAEW for 40 years. I have had little occasion to use its services but a recent experience has so frustrated me that I feel the need to put pen to paper.

Circumstances surround the affairs of a new client who approached us to join in February of last year. In March the necessary formal clearance for us to act was received from the previous accountants and at that time they indicated there was a balance of fees outstanding. We suggested our client settled these but they are in dispute and this information was reported to the previous accountant. For three months we corresponded until June, with no progress being made and no release of books or records, the institute was contacted. Matters have been with the institute from that time and my correspondence with the institute has been passed between someone at the Ethics Advisory Services, the head of CAASE and to the Professional Standards Office.

The institute confirms a lien in this case does not exist, but are reluctant despite a lack of response, to take any definitive action.

The situation in which I now find myself is that I am unable to proceed with the completion of accounts which are due to be included in our client’s tax returns, which must be filed by the 31 January.

This date is clearly impossible to achieve by now. Most recently the institute (I telephone each week) tells me the other accountant has promised to write to me but so far no letter has been received.

My anxiety now is that it has taken six months to achieve nothing. Other than the statutory requirements for auditory purposes, I really do now wonder what if any benefit the institute offers.

I certainly consider that I can spend my #232 fees better elsewhere.

My added embarrassment is that I joined the London Society of Chartered Accountants the same year that our president did and have held numerous positions for the local district society, and have always believed that one should be proud to be a member of a professional body. Is the institute’s ineptness in handling this plea for help typical of its dealings with members?

PD King, FCA, FCCA, Owadally & King, Croydon

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