Where to begin this week? Boris gone and HMRC in chaos
What a week! love him or loathe him, Boris is certainly a character, and his time as PM was hardly uneventful. His replacement will arguably face the toughest challenges of any prime minister since Margaret Thatcher. Rocketing inflation, an economy stagnating, channel migrants (or illegal imigrants depending on your point of view) still arriving by the boatload, war in Europe, dispute with the EU and the highest tax burden for generations, not to mention a cost of living crisis! That is some list.
It's not for me to say who the next leader is in this column, but it's clear that for the good of the country we need someone with a cool head, a clear economic policy and a clear plan to tackle all of the myriad other issues. Certainly not a job for the fainthearted. Do we have someone who has the talent and drive to deliver that? Perhaps not on the face of it, but cometh the hour cometh the man (or woman) as they say.
Elsewhere in the news though, in little reported articles, the NHS is going to get rid of 8000 admin positions. Anyone who knows me and my experience of working and being treated in the healthcare system will know my my view, which is about time too.
We've been reporting for so many months now the failings of HMRC, it almost seems like an HMRC bashing exercise. As some of my friends, family and clients have mentioned, as accountants we are bound to be adversaries of HMRC. In reality though, that's not correct. The vast majority of the time we should be on the same side. It's a bit of a myth to think we in the accounting profession are all spending our days looking for loopholes for our clients. We want what HMRC should want, which is for our clients to pay the correct amount of tax and nothing more. If there are two ways of doing something, then of course it's human nature to choose the path with the lowest levels of tax. That's not tax evasion (which is illegal by the way), it's just sensible tax planning and permitted within the rules. What we keep finding time and time again, particularly with HMRC's call centre staff (not as knowledgeable as their technical teams or investigators), is an arrogance that goes along with some poor advice. This week we've had a client poorly advised by the VAT staff. The appalling way that HMRC treat what they call customers (customers usually have a choice where they shop though) is really nothing short of a national scandal is at least partly responsible for why some of my peers in the profession are retiring early or just leaving the profession. The issues with HMRC really should make the national news more. This week though, and excellent article which your can read here has laid bare one of the major issues facing tax payers. We can only hope that the mainstream media shine more of a spotlight on an organisation that isn't fit for purpose and hasn't been for years now, certainly prior to the pandemic which HMRC is still using as an excuse.
So time to sign off now, but let's hope for a new PM who can tackle this cost of living crisis which is affecting many small businesses as well as families.