Saturday, 9 December 2017

It’s the Mastermind Christmas Special!

With Finance Bill answering questions on Christmas cracker jokes and, er, finance… 

Hello and welcome to our festive edition of Mastermind. I’m Magnus Numpteys…

Could we invite our first contestant into the chair, please.

MN: Your name, please?                                                                                         
Contestant: Finance Bill.

MN: Occupation?                                                                                                         
FB: Finance and Accountancy Aficionado. Although some people say that I occasionally get the wrong end of the stick.

MN: And your specialist subject?                                                                               
FB: Christmas cracker jokes and, er, finance. 

MN: Okay, Finance Bill, your time on Christmas cracker jokes and finance starts now… 
…How may accountants does it take to change a light bulb?

FB: 0.80 + VAT?                                                                                                                 
MN: Correct.

MN: What kind of motorbike does Santa ride?                                                       
FB: A Holly Davidson?                                                                                                                 
MN: Correct.

MN: What does Miley Cyrus have for Christmas dinner?                                       
FB: Twerky?                                                                                                                                          MN: Correct.

MN: What is the definition of ‘accountant’?                                                             
FB: Someone who solves a problem you didn’t know you had, in a way you don’t understand?            MN: Correct.

MN: What do you call a group of vainglorious chess players in a hotel lobby?                            
FB: Chess nuts boasting in an open foyer?                                                                                    
MN: Correct.

MN: Why did the accountant get excited when he completed a jigsaw puzzle in 42 weeks?           
FB: Because on the box it said 8-12 years?                                                             
MN: Correct.

MN: How will Christmas dinner be different after Brexit?                                   
FB: No Brussels?                                                                                                                            
MN: Correct.

MN: What do you call an accountant without a spreadsheet?                           
FB: Lost?                                                                                                                         
MN: Correct.

MN: What is the definition of a good tax accountant?                                         
FB: Someone who has a loophole named after them?                                               
MN: Correct.

MN: What is Santa’s favourite pizza?                                                                       
FB: One that’s deep-pan, crisp, and even?                                                                   
MN: Correct.

MN: How does an accountant go wild when staying at a hotel?                                                 
FB: By refusing to fill in the Guest Comment Card?                                           
MN: Correct.

MN: What happened to the man who stole an Advent calendar?                     
FB: He got 25 days?                                                                                                         
MN: Correct.

MN: How do accountants make a bold fashion statement?                               
FB: By wearing light grey socks instead of their dark grey ones?                                 
MN: Correct.

MN: What goes "Oh, oh, oh"?                                                                                 
FB: Santa walking backwards?                                                                                                      
MN: Correct.

MN: [BUZZER SOUNDS] And finally, have you heard the joke about the interesting accountant? 
FB: Er, no?                                                                                                                                     
MN: Me neither. Correct.

Finance Bill, at the end of that round, you scored 15 points, with no passes. 

Our next contestant, please…

How did you do?

We’re not suggesting you apply to go on Mastermind, but it’s never a bad thing to occasionally gen up on information that may affect your financial situation.

Although, perhaps not just yet, unless you still have your tax return to do. It is nearly Christmas, after all.

So, from everyone here at CW Towers, may we wish you all a very merry Christmas, and a healthy and happy 2018!

And please don’t overdo the twerky at your office party.

Until next month year...

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Your starter for 10: Is it a car or a van?

Er, not sure. Can it be something in-between…?

Oh, the fun we have at CW Towers!

When we’re not beavering away with all sorts of accountancy-related work, we sometimes treat ourselves to a well-deserved game of inter-departmental (and extremely competitive) I Spy.

The most recent episode was no less fiercely fought, descended into a somewhat passionate debate, and almost resulted in someone having their solar-powered calculator hidden in a bottom drawer.

And all because the person whose turn it was had a window to look out of.

Usually, in a game of I Spy, being the only person with a view to the outside world can give someone an unfair advantage. Although, in this case, what they saw complicated matters more than anyone could ever have imagined.

I spy with my little eye, something beginning with, er, ‘C’. I think. 
No, hang on. ‘V’. No. Forget that, it’s definitely ‘C’. Probably.

Guesses ranged from carrot and cauliflower (it was market day), to calculator (even though we’ve already had that 17 times before), to see-saw (please, don’t ask) and Chippenham.

Then, what’s normally a fairly breezy affair became much less so when the person triumphantly declared, “No, it’s a car! I still… think.

At which point, 14 people were huddled around a small window overlooking the street.

That’s not a car!” someone challenged. “Well, not according to HMRC!

Yes, it is!” cried the other person defensively.

And that’s when the wheels came off…

(For the record, there have been 3 recent appeals by HMRC to examine whether vehicles supplied to employees were vans or cars. This is because the categorisation of a vehicle supplied to an employee significantly affects the income tax liability for the employee as well as the national insurance contributions for the employer.)

So, apart from allowing innocuous office games to become too riotous, the moral of the story is that, sometimes, a window and a bit of HMRC knowledge can be dangerous.

Which is why, for health and safety reasons, we’re not going to play I Spy for a while.

No, the next game we have lined up is the fun and fast-paced ‘If I were a muppet, what sort of muppet would I be.

That should be interesting.

Until next month...

Thursday, 12 October 2017

What’s the best pressie you’ve ever received from work?

Well, it depends how trivial it is…

Brace yourself: we’re about to mention the c-word.

No need to be alarmed though – Hallowe’en hasn’t arrived yet and no one’s mentioned Guy Fawkes or Bonfire Night, so it’s perfectly acceptable timing to jump on the bandwagon and bring up Christmas 3 months early…

Because Christmas is a time for giving and goodwill to all, now is the ideal time for (ahem, great) employers to start thinking about what presents to get their highly-appreciated and hard-working employees.

Which is why it’s good to know about what gifts are tax-exempt and which ones you need to report on your P11D or PAYE Settlement Agreement.

That’s right; we’re talking about trivial benefits here.

So, what’s allowable and what isn’t?

Well, thanks to the work of Sir Tufty Rough-Bonce and his aides Preston Garstang and Compton Bassett in the Department of Trivial Affairs, all of the finer, pointless details have already been thrashed out.

Lengthy discussions have been had and painstaking decisions made. A Definitive History of HMRC didn’t quite make it (not trivial enough) and life-size knitted sheep were rejected immediately (too woolly).

However, within the conclusive guidelines, a nice bottle of wine or festive turkey is deemed acceptable. As is a £49.00 personalised Winter Wonderland snow globe.

In short, for the gift to be exempt, here’s what you need to know:

It can’t be cash or a cash voucher (but can be a gift voucher).
It shouldn’t exceed £50 in value.
It can’t be provided as part of a salary sacrifice or other contractual arrangement.
It shouldn’t be given in recognition of roles or services that the employee performs as part of
        their job.

Hopefully then (and unless you’re an insomniac), the wait for just what you've always wanted is only 77 sleeps away. But, if you think there’s more chance of Bing Crosby carol-singing White Christmas at your place of work than your employer having a seasonal treat lined up for you, remember, you could always lead by example…

Apparently, we hear that an ornamental turkey in a bottle is all the rage this year and selling fast. Of course, where you invite the recipient to put the decorative stuffing is entirely up to you.

Until next month...

Friday, 8 September 2017

Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?

We can help. But first, it’s time for the Chapman Worth quiz…

Bake Off’s back and so is Strictly, but whatever happened to another old favourite?

Here’s our industry-topical homage to one of the most popular quizzes of all time. (Unfortunately, there’s no money up for grabs although winners will have the opportunity to unsubscribe from to our mailing list.)

Ready?

Q1: What expenses can landlords now claim?
A. Whatever they like.
B. Whatever they can get away with.
C. Those that are wholly and exclusively for the purposes of renting out the property.
D. None. It’s not worth being a landlord.

Q2: What is Form 17?
A. A millennial hip-hop group from Grove.
B. The document that follows Form 16.
C. A shampoo for poodles.
D. A HMRC declaration for cohabiting couples to acknowledge unequal property ownership and be taxed proportionally.

Q3: What’s the definition of ‘people with significant control’?
A. Someone with authority or skill – e.g. a teacher, traffic warden, or juggler.
B. Someone who can drink 11 cups of tea without the need to powder their nose.
C. An individual who exerts significant control over a UK company or LLP through shares or voting rights.
D. Your other half.

Q4: What is disincorporation relief?
A. An annual, televised fundraising event.
B. Relief that allows the transfer of a business from a private limited company to a sole trader or partnership; and due to end on 31 March 2018.
C. The feeling you get when you leave behind corporate life.
D. An over-the-counter medication.

Q5: What does OTS stand for?
A. Office of Tax Simplification.
B. Office of Tax Simpletons.
C. Oh. Tax. S**t.
D. Overly Tense Subtraction.

If you’re dying to know the correct answers or want to read more on the topics covered here, you’ll find everything you need in this month’s email newsletter.

And if you’ve still no idea what quiz show we’ve been talking about, it might be time to ask the audience.

Either that, or shout in exasperation: “I’ll have a ‘P’ please, Bob!” Anything to let you escape the room.

Until next month...

Friday, 4 August 2017

Final score (AET): Tax Avoidance Scheme 0 – 1 HMRC

How a complex Employee Benefit Trust resulted in a catastrophic own goal…

With the new football season warming up, we’ve decided to get you in the mood with a match report of a recent (albeit long-running) encounter between HMRC and a well-known football club.

So, it’s over to our roving reporter in the north, Mike Hardigan-Fitzbaddely…

“Well, this one’s been a cracker, full of twists and turns.

Although the season’s just now starting for some, this marathon of a contest has only just finished for others. And yes, while one side can claim to literally be over the moon, the other is, without doubt, feeling as sick as a parrot. With psittacosis.

I’m talking about the former incarnation of Rangers Football Club (who subsequently went into liquidation) and the case brought against them by HMRC for tax avoidance.

From the off, Rangers were keen to keep things tight around the fringes and keep something extra in their locker – about £47m – rallying at every opportunity to keep HMRC at bay. Their strategy worked well and for much of the tussle, they remained untouchable. Their opponents had seen this formation and tactics before though, and continued to probe relentlessly until the cracks in Rangers’ rearguard action started to show.

On a different day, and if Rangers’ gameplan had been on target, it might have worked. But, as the battle of wills wore on, all their attempts to think outside the box caused them to fall into their own offside trap. 

And, despite a valiant, backs-to-the-wall defensive display, they ultimately found themselves not in acres of space, but a quagmire of red-card trouble. Caught in their own net, they paid the ultimate penalty.

What might have first appeared as a game of two halves and ‘a bit of handbags’ has now been decisively concluded. To lose the dressing room is one thing; to lose the entire football club is something that will cause them nightmares for years to come.

This is Mike Hardigan-Fitzbaddely, North of Watford. In the rain.” 

For those of us not versed in empty footballing parlance, following an appeal, The Supreme Court finally ruled in favour of HMRC who claimed that Rangers’ complex Employee Benefit Trusts and sub-trusts structure amounted to avoidance of liability to pay Income Tax and Class 1 National Insurance contributions. This involved the payments of over £47m to players, managers, and directors of the football club between 2001 and 2010.

We’ve all heard of schoolboy defending, although, in this case, it seems nowhere near as damaging as schoolboy accounting. Sometimes, claiming to give 110% clearly doesn’t work.

And remember, it’s only a cliché if it doesn’t have that certain je ne sais quoi.

Until next month...

Monday, 10 July 2017

Tour de France? On yer bike!

But a Cycle to Work scheme might tempt you back in the saddle…

It’s cycling season and, depending on where you sit as a commuter, it can be the best or worst time of the year.

If it’s atop a razor-thin saddle, well, there’s still the joy of the open road and the freedom of gliding past standstill traffic. If it’s behind a steering wheel, you can find yourself averaging 15mph thanks to the pair of cyclists riding abreast in front of you. 

So, if you can’t beat them, why not join them?

Since the Cycle to Work scheme was introduced to promote a healthy commute to work, countless employees have made the most of its tax-free benefits, with some of their employers also enjoying NIC savings. But that’s only half the fun.

Just look at some of the other benefits it offers…

You’ll feel fitter.
Maybe. Eventually. But only once you’ve become used to exercising for the first time since the Penny Farthing was invented, and after you’ve recovered from the aches and pains emanating from parts of you that you never knew you had until now.

It promotes quicker and more efficient work meetings.
Because even though you’ve invested in a deluxe air-cushion saddle and won’t leave the house without 3 pillows attached to your derrière, you still can’t sit down for the rest of the day. As a result, not only have you never moved around so gingerly, standing-only meetings have never proven so popular with you – despite everyone else in the room wondering why you’re being so restless.

It’s great for team-building.
Especially if you club together with colleagues and buy a seven-seater tandem. And don’t sit at the back not pedalling, or eating crisps there without telling anyone.

You’ve an excuse to kit yourself out in head-to-toe lycra.
Either as someone who actually knows what they’re doing, or as a fully-fledged member of the All-The-Gear-And-No-Idea Brigade (and often found as part of a peloton of MAMILs – Middle-Aged Men in Lycra).

It will save you a fortune in petrol.
Provided that:
A) You’ve not invested an equivalent fortune in kitting yourself out in head-to-
     toe lycra. 
B) You’ve not spent your savings treating yourself to a well-earned pastry or 
     five on your arrival to work each morning. (This is particularly inadvisable for   
     MAMILs.) 
C) You still have the energy to cycle home and don’t have to pay someone to    
     come and fetch you.

Convinced? We thought not.

In that case, how about the next best thing? Why not book some holiday in front of your TV this summer and watch a load of lunatics cycle 200km per day en route to Paris? 

It’s not tax-free but it’s a lot more relaxing.

Until next month...

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Bands, Burgers, and a Beer Festival…

What’s better than an approachable accountancy firm?

An approachable accountancy firm with beer, that’s what!

Which is why we’re involved with one of our local Beer Festivals this June...

Have you ever wondered what a Beer Festival run by accountants would be like? If you’re thinking drab, dry, and an empty barrel of laughs, you’d be wrong. Well, certainly on this occasion.

Although if we were living up to stereotypes, here’s our take on what some of the beers would be:

‘VAT Ninja’ 5.7%
Smooth and sleek dark ale that creeps up on you and packs a punch. Comprises delicate hops with no hint of what comes next. Other than a heavy chocolate flavour and you feeling 20% more tipsy than you should be.

‘Late Return’ 4.5%
Convivial and perky IPA with a moreish, decadent taste of warm summer and “Okay then, just one more...” Before you know it, you’ve missed your bus home and it’s 4am.

‘Liquid Asset P60’ 4.6%
A refreshingly hydrating, silky lager that’s bursting with citrus zing and energy. So hydrating, in fact, that you’ll need that extra zip to get up to powder your nose every hour.

‘Double Digit’ 10.1%
Light and fragrant craft beer with notes of tropical fruits. Eminently drinkable but extremely potent such that it’s limited to two pints per customer. Aptly named not just because of its alcohol rating but because, after a couple, one finger always looks like two.

‘Accountant’s Delight’ 6.2%
The jewel in the crown and our favourite. Deceptively good with intense malt flavours and almost magical qualities. Just one of these and you’ll instantly find everyone around you witty, engaging, and oozing personality. Especially accountants.

As for the music, you’d have to include classics like Money, Money, Money (by ADDA) and N.I.S.A. (by The Pillage People). And, of course, We Can Work It Out, Don’t Get Me Wrong and anything by The Magic Numbers…

Okay, we’re not actually running a Beer Festival but we are delighted to be the main sponsor of one – this month’s 6th West Hendred Beer Festival, being held over the Friday evening and Saturday all-day of 16th and 17th June.

And if you've been to the festival before you’ll know what a fun event it is. This year it’ll be better than ever with the introduction of a marquee, more live music, and the soon-to-be-famous Chapman Worth Chilli Burger – it’s going to be hot, hot, hot!

For any clients who haven't been before, why not pop along and let us buy you a beer?

Most of the Wantage team will be there and all talk of accountancy and tax is strictly off-limits – which is definitely worth raising a glass to.

And at least you’ll get the right change.

Cheers!

Until next month...