Monday, 25 May 2009

Jaw-dropping, again

I'm sorry, I don't quite follow this:

Chancellor Alistair Darling is among nine Cabinet Ministers who paid accountants public money to complete their tax returns, it has been reported.

That really didn't make any sense at all.

Chancellor Alistair Darling is among nine Cabinet Ministers who paid accountants public money to complete their tax returns, it has been reported.

Nope, it's still not working.

I could have sworn that this article was implying that the man we've entrusted to repair our economy has such a weak grasp of things that he's paying someone to do his tax forms.

Now stop for a moment and consider just how damning that would be. The fucking Chancellor of the Exchequer, the man who ultimately decides how much tax we all pay, isn't capable of working out how much tax he should pay.

Hello? Is that kind of the whole point of your fucking job?

But then to go that extra mile and take the liberty of using our fucking tax money to fill in your tax return is ... is ...

I don't know what it fucking is. But I now know who's head I want to see on the first pike outside parliament.

Update: Leg-iron feels much the same as I do.

Update 2: Samizdata has a good take, and Terry Pratchett weighs in:

I have been enormously buoyed up, though, by hearing from journalists and other pundits that “the rich won’t end up paying the 50 per cent income tax because their smart accountants will find a way around it”. When I put this to my own accountant, a senior member of a reputable London firm, he laughed and said: “Unless you want to go and live abroad for a very long time, or associate with some extremely unsavoury people, or invest in risky tax schemes, then for someone like you there is really nothing that can be done.”

I assume he knows his stuff and the tax authorities know theirs, so why is this bland assertion repeated so regularly?


JuliaM said...


Heart rate....increasing!


*whew* That feels better.

Obnoxio The Clown said...

Just when you think you've heard it all, eh?

Fucking unbelievable!

Umbongo said...

Wait a minute - Darling indents for £1,400 in respect of two years tax services from an accountant. If he has employed any accountant that I have come across, that would have been barely sufficient to fill in Darling's name on his return (assuming HMRC hadn't done that already).

In other words, it's not that Darling's tax affairs are overly complex due to his own (and Brown's) crass incompetence. It's that he's too bloody lazy to spend the 10 minutes necessary to complete, sign and file his own return so he gets you and me to pay someone to do it for him. WTF do these parasites spend their own money on?

Chalcedon said...

My accountant is a good chap. Honest. He will claim the max for me within the law relating to what I do. End of story. I pay up what I legally have to. I may not like it of course. Who likes being fleeced of THEIR cash by a bunch of bastards like we have at present?

Anonymous said...

I don't give a flying fuck whether Darling as Chancellor hires an accountant or not. After all, I don't imagine for an instant that Jenson Button maintains his own regular road cars.
What I really get fucked off over is us getting charged for it.
Umbongo, however, has an excellent point and also raises another one.
If £1400 represents two years' worth of accounting, he's either using someone very minor operating from home or his tax affairs are extremely simple - and I don't imagine that's the case.
I'm self-employed and I pay an accountant to do my books, etc so I know of what I speak.
£700 a year just doesn't ring true, it really doesn't, as it's really not that much more than I pay and my finances are fairly simple.
I think there's more to this than meets the eye.
Even Hoon's claim of £3000 seems too low - even for one year.
I know the whole situation stinks, but I smell something really fishy here - gut instinct, maybe - but it all sounds suspect.
Could it be that these odd amounts are being put down as accountancy, but are, in fact, just an extra bit of bunce?

Anonymous said...

Sorry to bang on...
But you're Chancellor of the Exchequer, possibly the second most important politico in the country. You're a millionaire with several properties but you pay £700 a year - about the cost to a sole trader to a local accountant.
That's total fucking bollocks - you're going to use the best there is because you have that sort of lifestyle, so it's going to cost you.
A good accountant - outside London - is going to charge at least £150 an hour.
So what was so childishly simple that he had to pay someone for around 5 hours work a year?
It doesn't compute at all...

Tax Accountant said...

Perhaps I can help.

The tax return for an MP who has no other significant sources of income is actually extremely simple and a fee of £700 is cutting it fine but it can be done.

The reason is that she or she just reports their salary and nothing else.

If reimbursed expenses are tax-exempt (as they are for, say, business travel) an employee of a private company reports two balancing entries: the expense they have incurred and the reimbursement of the expense by the employer.

MPs do not even have to do this.

It is true that HMRC have been turning to a blind-eye to expenses that have been approved by the Fees Office, but for much of the time MPs do not even disclose reimbursed expenses.

Before I go, the case of Andy Burnham is one of the most grotesque to come to light in the past few days.

The new landlord of Dolphin Square paid him £16,600 to surrender his tenancy. He therefore derived a capital sum from an asset which is fully chargeable to CGT (section 22 TCGA 1992). This is open and shut. There is no cross-reference in this part of the legislation to MPs and they are not entitled to privileged treatment of a receipt like this.

The Fees Office basically re-wrote the law for his benefit. He was "allowed" to treat it as an expense. Not only are the Fees Office making "the rules" up as they go along, what they are making up is not even financially literate.

This is a case which deserves to be kept in the limelight.