Archive for September, 2011

Simplified accounts? ‘Cash’ accounting? – Get real!

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

There is a proposal to allow very small businesses to account for their profits on a simplified, cash basis.  There are many who would laugh at the association of  ‘cash’ with any form of accounting.  There are many people who deal with their own tax affairs and accounts without the help of professional advisers.  It would be interesting to know how many of them recognise the concept of accrual based accounting.  I suspect the proposed simplified basis is already in common use, and, in fact, for many very small businesses the accruals basis would, in any case, create the same result.

The emphasis should not be on the method of accounting at all.  It should be on the responsibility for accounting for profits, by whatever means.

The tax system is hugely complicated, partly because it strives to create fairness in how people contribute.  Unfortunately the complications contribute largely to its unfairness.  The more wealthy can employ schemes to avoid their intended contributions.  At the lower end of the scale the workforce, highly or lowly paid, has little scope for reducing or avoiding their tax and National Insurance liabilities.  Many employees earn no more or less than the proprietor of a very small business.  They pay their taxes through the PAYE system without question.  They may complain, but they have little choice.  Is it fair on them to make it easier for the self employed (on whatever scale) to pay less than their fair share of tax?

The comparative ‘freedom’ of self-employment carries with it the responsibility for the self-employed to account for what they do and to make a corresponding contribution to the country’s funding.  Acounting for what they do should not be made easier because accounting is difficult, – it isn’t.  They should be educated to make it a normal, accepted responsibility.  If they cannot cope with the simple recording of income and relevant expenditure, they should not be allowed to self-assess.

Any other basis would be too expensive to administer.  The present system is increasingly driven by fear because it is too expensive to police properly (much like the rest of society).  So what’s the answer?  I’m an accountant and, as usual, have absolutely no idea – but I do know that when there is something to be taken advantage of , there is never a shortage of participants.

Is it only me?

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

Is it only me that thinks something is inherently wrong with the TV betting adverts during sporting events, especially football matches?  I am surprised it  hasn’t caused an uproar.  I suspect a lot has to do with the fact that gambling probably represents one of the few growth areas in our economy – one of the things Britain is good at.

Is it really acceptable to encourage people, especially children, to believe that it is perfectly normal to consider placing bets on such nonsense as who scores the next goal, which is the next corner flag to be knocked over, or even who wins?  Or perhaps it is normal, which is even more tragic.  ‘Doing the pools’ or a weekly punt on the Lottery is one thing (well, two things), but making gambling an automatic part of watching a game seems almost corrupt.  Do the authorities not realise that gambling is, potentially, very addictive?  Of course they do, in exactly the same way they have known for long enough that not enough is being done by them or by most people to provide for retirement.  But that’s tomorrow’s (and someone else’s) problem.

It might be perfectly acceptable for over-paid footballers to idly fritter away their excessive funds on gambling of one sort or another, but it should not be considered suitable for more normally paid people to supplement their meagre existence – it is more likely to make their existence even more meagre.