Letters – 5 February

It ain’t no fun being a hermit

You suggest that an ‘Outer Hebridean hermit… can have a genuine excuse for not knowing about the nation’s new tax regime.’

I suggested this to an HMIT, who was amused but unconvinced by the idea.

Can I request that you improve the quality of your (frivolous) advice so as to not mislead our clients?

Thankfully, all our hermit clients lodged their SA returns long ago.

Angus Nicolson, partner, Mann Judd Gordon chartered accountants, Stornoway, Western Isles

English ICA is disappointing

I read with astonishment about the lenient sentence handed out to Tim Smith.

I have until now supported the principle of self-regulation, but the treatment of Mr Smith has convinced me that the English ICA is not capable of regulating itself. The appearance given is that Tim Smith’s influential friends have secured him a light rap over the knuckles.

I look forward to the day when the institute promotes the interests of its members as a whole and the wider profession by upholding standards of integrity and ethical conduct, rather than being seen to hand out favours to its senior members.

Hugh Andrews, ACA, Woking, Surrey

A case of jobs for the boys?

I truly and totally support the view expressed in your leader column (15 January) concerning Mr Smith.

Is it a case that the institute is showing that it is not in touch with the general public and indeed representative of its membership?

Is it true that the chairman of the committee is addressed as Mr Jobsworth (part of the jobs for boys syndicate)?

I am a member of the institute but would ask you to withhold my name, knowing that my professional ‘body’ is long in the tooth.


Name and address withheld

Shame on the lynch mob

I am appalled by the lynch-mob mentality of those who would expel Tim Smith from the institute because he did not declare the payments that he received from Al Fayed.

Before this affair, Tim Smith was a government minister, an MP, a consultant to the institute and other organisations. As a result of his actions, he has lost all his posts, he has been publicly humiliated and he has had to pay in excess of #3,000. He is unemployed and at his age may find it difficult to get another job. I am convinced that the majority of my colleagues would agree that enough is enough.

The small minority who want the coup de grace of expelling Mr Smith from the institute must be the most callous bastards in the world. I shudder to think what would happen if they were ever in any position of authority.

It is also worth noting that Mr Smith’s misdemeanour occurred in his capacity as an MP and had nothing to do with accountancy. He was not elected to the House of Commons because he was a chartered accountant, he was an MP who simply happened to be a chartered accountant.

Your correspondent of 22 January wrote a long letter attacking Tim Smith but didn’t have the guts to sign his name. Unlike him I am signing this letter with my full name as I have nothing to hide.

James G Fluss, ACA, London

James Herriot required

I find your heading in the edition of 22 January most appropriate. As one who is responsible for the lodging of about 600 tax returns, I am sorry that I do not have the memory or the time of a James Herriot. I am sure I could write a best-seller about the current shambles!

However, I have one problem which perhaps your readers might be able to help me with.

I have a client who is a partner in a business but suddenly last year, started to receive payment on account notices always in credit.

Now he has received a payment on account with the current debits but he is still receiving credits. I am not sure whether he has in fact received the over payment cheque of just under #200 as yet. But not having paid them a penny he thinks this is a wonderful system.

Pity the poor chap who is making the payments as they are obviously being credited to the wrong account! I suppose he will soon be charged the interest plus having the sheriff officers round to see him as to why he has not paid his tax.

I might add that we wrote to the Revenue last year and advised them that this gentleman was getting someone else’s credits but nothing happened.

In conclusion, I should add that I personally seem also to have ‘broken’ the Revenue’s system. Although my return was lodged on 19 December, I have received neither a payment reminder nor a payslip. On phoning my local tax office, staff confirmed having received my return but find it incomprehensible that I have not received a payslip, blank or otherwise.

Incidentally, one of my fellow partners is in the same predicament.

William A D Macphail, Elgin

Missed the business link

Your feature stating that ‘one meeting’ about working with Business Links had not reached any conclusion (‘Poaching Business’, 22 January) is wrong.

For the last year, ACCA’s small business committee and ICAEW’s enterprise group have engaged in an active collaborative programme to bring the profession and Business Links together. We recognise how important it is for accountants to develop effective relationships with Business Links, particularly with Personal Business Advisers. Equally, we are keen to demonstrate to Business Links the advantages of working with the profession which is best able to open doors to the businesses which they will wish to contact. The model which we have developed was presented to the Business Links Chief Executives’ Forum in September, with the support and encouragement of both the Business Links Network Company and the DTI. We are now taking it forward in a joint working group with Business Link chief executives.

We are clear that Business Links are not there to step on the toes of local accountants and that the services which both provide can and should be complementary. It is, however, true that, in many respects, the relationship is not working at the moment. The profession and Business Links need to establish a best practice model for their relationship. We are determined that this should remove many of the current misunderstandings, put a search light on problems where they exist and provide for relationships which benefit professionals, Business Links and, most of all, small firms alike.

Chris Christou FCCA, Chairman ACCA Small Business Committee and Richard Longley FCA, chairman ICAEW Enterprise Group, London

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