This week’s blogs: kept in the loop

Why do firms treat their staff like mushrooms?

For some reason decisions taken at the partner or director level in the vast
majority of firms are not communicated to the staff.

Ask the workers toiling at the coalface in almost any practice about their
firm’s business development plans and you will be met with blank looks.

At best, this is very poor management but, at a time when the demands placed
on those workers are likely to increase, it is extremely foolhardy.

Working harder, faster and smarter is the key to business survival in a
recession and many practices are looking at ways of improving performance –
often at the same time as freezing wages.

Unless they have the support of their staff they are not going to get very

Phil Shohet, director, Kato consultancy,

As a firm we have found the [HMRC business payment support service] helpline
to be responsive and pragmatic in their dealings with requests. The experiences
that we and our clients are finding are that requests for deferment of taxes of
less than £10,000 are generally accepted without query and an offer of payment
terms of less than six months leads to a positive confirmation as long as the
tax at stake does not run into the hundreds of thousands.

Our requests were made prior to the due date of tax falling.

This is in accordance with the conditions for use of the helpline and may
explain the positive responses that we are receiving.

Credit should be given where credit is due.

Graeme Blair, tax services director, Goodman Jones

It is notable that The Guardian thinks that Gordon Brown is targeting
Switzerland as he opens up his own tax haven agenda.

However, if he thinks Switzerland is the source of all secrecy, he had better
think again.

As the Swiss point out, it is at least as easy to create banking secrecy in
the UK as it is in Switzerland. Simply combine a company, with nominee
shareholders, nominee directors and a nominee secretary trading from a post
office box address, with a trust managed by professional trustees who have
absolutely no idea what they are doing, and you have created a wall of secrecy
that is a lot more impenetrable than most things that Switzerland has to offer.

Richard Murphy, Tax Research UK

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