Good story – but not true[QQ] The suggestion (by the Conservative Party’s finance minister Richard Ottoway) in your article on 11 May (Come out to benefit from IR35) that our proposed legislation is designed to favour gay consultants makes a good story, but I am afraid it is completely untrue. It is not true that this is the first time tax legislation has recognised common law relationships between a man and a woman: legislation on tax allowances has referred to such relationships since 1988. And, more importantly, it is not true that homosexuality is treated as an exception in the IR35 legislation. The legislation (like other tax legislations) assumes married couples will make joint decisions about some aspects of their finances, and treats a partnership or a company jointly controlled by a husband and wife in the same way as one controlled by either of them separately. It also specifically provides that unmarried (heterosexual) couples should be treated in the same way. However, there are other rules in the legislation which will have the same effect where partners of the same sex control a company or partnership and use it as a channel for the earnings of one partner from a contract which is essentially employment. It is not true that gay consultants will be any better or worse off under our legislation than other couples. They, like all service company workers, will in future pay the same tax and national insurance contributions as an employee when they are doing the same job, essentially under the same conditions, as an employee. Nicola Walters, director of external communications unit, Inland Revenue What’s really in a name? Ann Baldwin (4 May, page 18, ‘Give Hector his Trousers Back’) forgot to mention that the word hector means ‘blustering bully’. Michael Brown, Uxbridge Tax rate exceeds 100% I refer to the letter from D.R. Myddleton published in the issue 27 April. My recollection is that tax rates exceeded 98% at some point in the 1960s. I recall a 6 old pence investment income surcharge putting the top rate at 20 shilling and three pence in the pound (of 20 shillings) = 101%. Peter Firth, London My heart bleeds for you When I read Accountancy Age’s 4 May issue ‘Should the Phoenix bid fail, the Big Five is ready to battle it out for the lucrative contract to liquidate Rover,’ my heart bled for all the firms involved. Warren Levy, West Wycombe Get your own house in order Was I the only one to see the humour in your lead article on 11 May? According to that article the European Commission is worried that auditors will be unable to sign off figures on the accounts of some SMEs. The Commission does not seem to have been at all worried about qualifications on its own audit reports and this does not seem to have prevented them from continuing to spend public funds liberally. I seem to recall a well-known comment about putting one’s own house in order. Anthony Sober, London All letters should be sent to: The Editor, Accountancy Age, VNU House, 32-34 Broadwick Street, London W1A 2HG Tel: 020 7316 9236 Fax: 020 7316 9250 Or e-mail us on: Accountancy Age reserves the right to edit letters for space or clarity. Please include your title, company name and a daytime telephone number.

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