News in Brief - 16 July
New Treasury powers
The Treasury will get new powers to monitor and audit Whitehall departments’ spending following the government’s comprehensive spending review. Chancellor Gordon Brown said on Tuesday that extra money would be released only if departments keep to spending plans. ‘Continuous scrutiny and audit’ of their performance will be carried out by treasury officials who will report to a special cabinet committee.
ACT changes ‘too complex’ The Chartered Institute of Taxation slammed government draft regulations for advance corporation tax (ACT) for introducing complications that would distort business decisions. In its formal response, the CIOT said the regulations were almost incomprehensible in places.
Writs on hold as Botnar dies Following Octav Botnar’s death in Switzerland at the weekend, the Inland Revenue’s application to have his case for damages and malicious prosecution dismissed was adjourned until 30 July. Botnar’s company Nissan UK paid #56m in a 1996 corporation tax settlement in the country’s largest ever tax fraud, which led to jail terms for two of the company’s directors.
PFI fees criticised The Highways Agency was criticised this week for failing to control escalating fees from Price Waterhouse, Hambros and other advisers on four Private Finance Initiative road schemes. The Commons Public Accounts Committee was concerned that the budgeted #1m in professional fees escalated to #8m by the time the projects were completed.
CPAC calls for remit growth The comptroller and auditor general’s remit should be extended to include Railtrack, rail operating companies, housing associations and publicly owned companies and contractors providing public services, according to the Commons Public Accounts Commission. The comptroller and auditor general’s remit should be extended to include Railtrack, rail operating companies, housing associations and publicly owned companies and contractors providing public services, according to the Commons Public Accounts Commission.
Customs eyes VAT threshold Customs & Excise published a consultation document last week seeking views on whether to lower the VAT registration threshold. The current policy eases the burden on small businesses, said Customs, but critics argue the high threshold distorts competition for businesses trading close to turnover level.
ACCA legal win confirmed ACCA has confirmed its legal victory against the Institute of Financial Accountants as revealed in Accountancy Age two weeks ago (2 July). The High Court found the IFA had plagiarised large portions of ACCA’s syllabus, including a typographical error.
Court hears CSM case On Tuesday, the High Court heard taxation software company CSM’s case against former employee Joanna Edwards and rival Hartley Computer UK. Hartley undertook not to make any further use of a CSM database alleged to have been used by Edwards after she left the company. The case continues.
Charities must be businesslike Charities must be run in a businesslike manner while remaining true to their charitable roots, Paul Bailey, chief accountant of the National Trust and ACCA council member said this week. Golf regional finalistsJeff Wilson of Wilson Croft, was the winner of the fifth and final Accountancy Age Masters 98 regional qualifier,held at East Herts Golf Club last Friday.
Also qualifying for the national final, which will be held at The Forest Of Arden golf club in October, were: Michael Morrow of Stewart Morrow Associates (2nd); Alex Guberman of Paragon Business Products (3rd); Kevin Powell of Knill James; Richard Greenwood of London Borough of Redbridge; Phillip Eccott of Salomon Smith Barney; Stuart Law of Neville Russell who also won the longest drive; Phil Giles of Williams,Giles & Co and Paul Wigham of ITC. Douglas Vanzijl won nearest the pin. Results to date