Self to leave E&Y

A frequent contributor to Accountancy Age on tax issues, Self is taking on the post of director of tax at the power company and will head a 12-strong department. Scottish Power finance director David Nish said: ‘We are delighted that Heather has joined the team as she brings excellent knowledge of UK/US tax issues and a wide range of experience, particularly across the corporate tax field’.

  • The Inland Revenue will miss its target of 50% take-up of its electronic services by the end of 2005, according to a report from the National Audit Office. Despite strong business interest in using the Revenue’s electronic PAYE system, e-filing of individual self-assessment forms remained less than expected. The NAO report said the Revenue had to demonstrate the benefits of using its electronic services and develop a more customer-oriented approach if it was to hit the 50% target.

  • Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the Asian superpower’s biggest bank, has called on Ernst & Young to audit its books amid concerns about the high rate of non-performing loans in the country. E&Y will audit about a fifth of ICBC’s business, the first time the bank has used foreign auditors for its accounts. Ernst & Young will send a team of more than 100 people to audit the bank’s operations in Shanghai and in Zhejiang province.
  • Corporate registrar Companies House is currently being investigated by the Office of Fair Trading which is examining whether there has been an alleged breach of UK competition laws. A spokesman for the competition watchdog confirmed a formal investigation had been launched. He told ‘We have reasonable grounds to suspect Companies House of breaching the 1998 Competition Act and acting in an anti-competitive manner.’ The investigation is believed to centre around the sale of reports over the internet to the private sector.
  • More house-owners are set to be affected by inheritance tax, following the release of figures showing a rise in house prices in London and the South East. The Land Registry has calculated the average cost of a home in London and the South East at £220,000, putting many taxpayers into the ‘IHT net’ as the nil rate band is currently £242,000. Chartered Institute of Taxation president John Whiting said the increase in the average cost of a home would challenge the 2001 Budget claim that just 4% of estates had to pay IHT.

  • The government is losing up to £3.5bn a year through tobacco smuggling, part of an estimated £7.3bn lost through VAT fraud revealed in Customs & Excise’s latest appropriation accounts. The National Audit Office’s review of the accounts said Customs should improve the way it tackles tobacco fraud by making more effective use of scanner technology at ports and publicising more widely its success rates. The NAO also said Customs could make better use of its VAT registration procedures to identify potential fraud.

  • A movie called The Accountant is in the running for an Academy Award in the category of best short film at this year’s Oscars. The 38-minute film tells the story of an ‘eccentric’ accountant brought in to rescue a small farm in the American South, steeped in debt. The winner will be announced at the 2002 Academy Awards ceremony which take place in Los Angeles on 24 March. All votes for awards in the 24 categories are diligently added up and checked by accountants from PricewaterhouseCoopers.

  • Correction: The 7 February edition of Accountancy Age carried an article saying that ‘a spokesman for Jobtel said that the firm had no plans to float this year’ (‘City still waiting for Jobtel’, page 2). We understand that no such statement was made and accordingly we apologise for its inclusion and for any concern that this may have caused. Jobtel has asked us to make clear that the flotation of the Jobtel consortium is still envisaged this year.

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