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One of you is a proper, fully paid up, actuary I believe?

No, I don’t know how actuarying works. Do you have to be licensed? Independent? Or is it something that can be done by anyone with hte right qualifications but not requiring a licence? Or what?

For, a reader here.

“I’m in the position of being executor for my late sister-in-law and I’m in desperate need of someone to do an actuarial computation concerning the value (or maybe time value) of a life interest in property”

This might then become part of a submission to HMRC.

So, what’s the system here? Is there a form of “ActuaryingIsUs”? Or is this some little bit of side work someone qualified here would like to pick up? And yes, of curse, standard professional fees would apply. I don’t know tho’ whether this is something that’s done by one man band actuaries or what?

So, new adventure


Writing a stock market page for a newspaper. Could work, possibly won’t. This is a test to see whether writing such little squibs (ie, 400 word pieces) will generate traffic. If traffic is generated from the search engines then that can indeed be monetised. Well, probably.

If this does indeed work then there’s a job opportunity. Not in the writing (that’s me) but in organisation. A real, paid, job that is. Something I know that I’m not good at is the nuts and bolts of just making sure that things get tracked in detail. I know who the potential advertisers are, even how to go sign up with them. But that sort of grind just doesn’t suit me. So, someone to do that physical work of signing folk up. And then tracking performance. It’s bookkeeping more than anything else. Would in fact suit a bookkeeping type.

Assuming further success then it would become a full time occupation. No programming knowledge is necessary, although an acquaintance with the idea would be useful.

So, anyone know of anyone with those sort of skills looking for work let me know.

It’s not a ploy, it’s a bribe

Harry Potter star Rupert Grint has been accused of offering a “cynical” sweetener to villagers surrounding the country estate where he hopes to build a new “eco-village” by offering them free land.

The actor, who played Ron Weasley in the film series, wants to build five detached houses and four affordable terraced homes on his Kimpton Grange Estate in Hertfordshire.

He has offered to provide extra land to the owners of several properties that back on to the estate that would provide them with gardens.

But some of the villagers have accused Mr Grint of a ploy to win over the support of locals, many of whom have objected to the plans to build on protected greenbelt land.

The argument is about the price of course, not the idea…….

A stunning display of competence

The generous scheme, originally designed to top up MEPs’ pensions from their home countries, has been heading for disaster for years, with future obligations far exceeding its assets. A deficit of €286 million between future obligations and asset value in 2018 is expected to reach €400 million by 2024. It is forecast to become insolvent from that year, requiring a bailout from European parliament funds, which come from member state taxpayers. The parliament has recognised that it is liable for the scheme’s future obligations.

They can’t even set up a pension fund but they should run the entire continent of Europe, eh?

BTW, for funsies, what would the deficit be if they’d invested in bonds paying a “high” 1% interest rate?

Buying more National Insurance stamps

So, for the assembled accounting and pensions folk around here.

You can buy more NI stamps to get your contribution record up a number of years so as to increase the amount of the Old Age Pension.


So, can you do this after your retirement date? After the OAP date, that is? So, at age 68 – when your age cohort gains access to the OAP at 67 – go back and buy another decade’s worth (I think you can only buy a decade’s worth these days) of contributions? Or does it all have to be done before the pension kick in date?

Damned if you do……

So, emergency, don;t just stand there, do something. So, something is done. At which point:

When secret coronavirus contracts are awarded without competition, it’s deadly serious
George Monbiot

Perhaps an emergency isn’t quite the time to be running 3 month competitive bids?


Just the usual tale of a bureaucracy being all efficient and useful:

The City watchdog has issued a warning to consumers after scammers cloned the industry register which is supposed to protect them from rogue firms.

The Financial Conduct Authority’s register, a database, exists to help consumers spot unregulated advisers and scam financial firms.

However, the FCA said it has been cloned, likely by financial scammers looking to dupe consumers into believing scam firms are legitimate. The fake register remains online at but the FCA said it was working to remove the website. When questioned, the regulator did not say when it first became aware of the issue.

Mark Taber, a financial campaigner, questioned why the watchdog had not bought this and similar websites domains itself. He said these domains could be purchased for as little as 99p and that this would have prevented third parties from doing so….

Still don’t understand this bloke’s money

Trading in gold bullion is usually seen as a licence to print money but, curiously, Formula One billionaire Bernie Ecclestone’s son-in-law has managed to post a loss.
I can disclose that James Stunt, who is married to Bernie’s 28-year-old daughter Petra, right, achieved an impressive turnover of £43.5 million with his business Stunt & Co.
However, newly published accounts at Companies House report that it made a loss of £842,000.

Trading in gold bullion isn’t in fact a licence to print money at all. It’s a very low margin business. Would be really rather astonished to find out that gross margins were over 1% to be honest.

It always strikes me as more the sort of business that people think should make you rich rather than one which does.

Gaddammit get this right!

Restaurants should give tips to staff, a government minister has declared after wading into the Côte row.
The leading restaurant chain pockets the entire service charge paid by customers, rather than giving it to the staff as tips, it has emerged.
The 12.5 per cent charge is automatically added to bills but goes straight to the company.
Staff are even instructed to say the charge goes to workers if asked about it by customers.
But Business Secretary Sajid Javid said he did not believe the system was fair and revealed that government would be examining the issue.
“While it would not be appropriate to comment on this individual case, as far as I’m concerned, tips belong to the staff,” he said.

“Tips” and “service charge” are two different legal things.

Tips are voluntary payments from the customers and as such are the legal property of the staff and no one else. They are subject to income tax but not NI and VAT.

A service charge is a charge by the business. It belongs to the business. It pays, when distributed to staff (if it is) both NIs and income tax. VAT is charged upon it.

“A recommended service charge is added to your bill” is a bit of a grey area. Back when, if the customer could ask to have it taken off, and it wsa with not problems or pressure, then it’s a tip not a service charge.

But Javid should know this stuff. Tips do belong to staff and it’s theft to take them from them. Service charges do not.

Calling this blog\’s beancounters

Here\’s a little something I\’d like to know about a piece I need to write over the weekend.

A software manufacturer is moving their customers from a buy a permanent license and buy the upgrade every couple of years to an online pay a monthly fee and get the upgrades as they come.

The software suite costs, say, $2,000. Now, with that sort of money, how would the buyers be accounting for it?

Obviously, the monthly fee is now just going to be operating costs. Just like the electricity required to run the computers. But before that: with 2k pieces of software. Would they have been writing that off in year one? Heck, it\’s an operating cost so the hell with it? Or would they have been forced to depreciate it over time?

My guess is that a £50 piece of s/ware just gets writtne off an an operating expense. A £5 million investment in Oracle is a capital expense amortised over time. But where\’s the cut off point for one treatment and the other? Are there HMRC rules on this or is it, well, depends?

HMRC as an unsecured creditor at Comet

Secured creditors, led by the financial investors who backed Comet, are expected to receive a return of 34p in the pound, while unsecured creditors, including HM Revenue & Customs which is owed £26.1m, will receive nothing.

I sorta expect this to cause another kerfluffle. HMRC being an unsecured creditor means that The State loses out when a company goes bust. And we know that The State losing out is a terribly bad thing.

I\’ve got at the back of my mind that HMRC being unsecured is a recent thing. But that might just be my faulty memory.

The other side of it is that if HMRC were secured then many more businesses would go bust much sooner. Which is why it isn\’t of course.

What an excellent point

Investors (and many others) don\’t actually use company accounts in decisions about investing.

Because an investment decision (as with a lending one and many others) is a forward looking one. We\’ve many sources of forward looking information: announcements to markets (which the directors have to make about anything that might impact on the business), changes in prices of products or raw materials (gold mining shares do change price along with the gold price, people don\’t wait for the annual accounts to see the effect on profits etc), interest rates, GDP, all sorts of places we get our forward looking information from.

Annual accounts come out what, 3-9 months after the end of the relevant period? The audited accounts that is? Just not useful for those forward looking decisions for we\’ve many month\’s worth or newer and better information about future prospects than what is contained in those audited accounts.

The value of the accounts is that we can now check and see whether what the directors have been telling us through the markets for the past 15-21 months was actually grounded in reality. Given that everyone knows that this check is going to come that works pretty well (although certainly not perfectly).

Which, as a piece of logic, rather neatly punctures Ritchie\’s insistence on all that information that must be included in company accounts. He really does tell us that people must be able to use them for forward looking decisions. But we don\’t use them to do so at all, because they\’re old by the time we get them. They\’re a check on past information releases, not the information releases themselves. We\’ve a whole new set of information releases by the time we find out whether the directors have been telling us porkies or not.

Accountancy joke

The feature that auto-corrects text as you type.

Every accountant I know has gone into the options screen and entered in that typo so that it automatically changes back to \’accountant\’ and spares their blushes.

No, that\’s just the set up.

Occasionally you come across a few howlers in the field. Such as this one I stumbled across today. The poor Irish lambs appear to have been hacked too. They have a thing or two to learn about safe hex.

Accountants are different Part 344

As you do under these circumstances, I then learned the whole chart off by heart, right down to the letters that were only a couple of millimetres high, by dint of leaving my right eye slightly open. A couple of days later the doctor told me that my eyesight appeared to have recovered, at which stage it was my turn to gaze at him horrified and tell him in no uncertain terms that his stupid chart was a test of memory, not a test of eyesight.

Is our Dickie right here?

UK forensic accountant Richard Murphy says: \”The fundamental question is how accountants got away with changing rules of accountancy, which state they don\’t have to assess the valuation of assets underlying the assets on a balance sheet. How did they get away with changing the audit rules?\”

I can see two possible statements here.

1) That accountants, when doing an audit, do not trouble themselves to find out whether a Gilt in hte books at £101 is actually, on the Gilts market, valued at £101. If they\’re not doing that then indeed, that would be absurd.

2) That auditors should be looking at the Gilts market and deciding whether the market valuation of £101 is indeed a true and fair value. To insist that they should be doing that would also be absurd.

So it becomes, I guess, which is it that Ritchie thinks they ought to be doing and which is it that they actually do.

Given his comments on the Madoff fraud, I have the horrible feeling that he\’s trying to insist upon 2). He\’s said that those who audited feeder funds to Madoff should have checked to see whether Madoff was a fraud: but that, of course, was the function of the auditors to Madoff, not the auditors to anyone else.

Prem Sikka, missing the point again

It\’s amazing that an accounting Professor gets this so wrong.

The fledgling economic recovery requires that more spending power be placed in the hands of normal people and small businesses. All political parties should look at the operations of the insolvency industry, which is enriching itself at the expense of normal people.

The point of an insolvency, of a practitioner in it, isn\’t to get back as much as he can for the creditors.

Sure, it\’s a nice thing to do, they have a duty to do it as well. But that\’s not the actual reason that we have the system of bankruptcy and so on at all.

The aim is to get the productive assets out of some limbo where they cannot be used into a position where they can be. We simply don\’t want productive resources, whatever they are, labour, buildings, piles of steel or whatever, to be sitting around while someone tries to get the best price for them, or while there are arguments about who owes what to whom and so on. We want them flogged off and being used by someone else as fast as possible.

For the very definition of wealth creation is the movement of productive assets from low productivity uses to higher ones.

Insolvency methods are therefore the tail end of the process: it\’s the bankruptcy and the reallocation of the assets that is the important part and thus the part that we concentrate upon.

Prem Sikka, he\’s a lad, ain\’t he?

In general, an individual cannot receive tax relief on interest payments whether the debt is for buying a house, car, fridge, cooker or anything else. In contrast, the tax concessions to corporations have been maintained regardless of whether the debt is for buying productive assets, or speculating in markets, paying exorbitant dividends, setting up operations in tax havens, or even champagne parties for friends.

You would sort of hope that a Professor of Accounting would know that interest for business expenses is allowable….whether it\’s a corporation, partnership, sole trader or entirely an individual. Buy to Let landlords offset mortgage interest against rents for example.

He also rather misses the major point:

Elimination of the tax relief on corporate interest payment would not prevent companies from using debt finance. Instead, it would add an element of neutrality into their choice of capital structure since payments of dividends to providers of equity do not qualify for tax relief. The ending of the taxpayer subsidy would also force companies to maintain more moderate levels of leverage. The measure would increase tax revenues that can be used to fund pensions, healthcare, education, public transport, reduce public borrowings and even tax cuts for normal people, and provide a much needed stimulus to the economy.

You get to tax these flows once.

Dividends are taxed at the level of the recipient (different in the US, I know). So is interest. So, if you\’re going to tax interest at the level of the company you have to make it tax free at the level of the recipient.

So there ain\’t any more tax revenue to be had….and you\’ve created a rentier class who, at least in appearance, are living tax free off their interest.

I can really see the lefties buying into that, can\’t you?


Can anyone explain the logic of this second sentence to me?

And the reality is that tax yield is based on the combination of tax base and tax rate. You can control one of those two at any time, but not both at once.

I\’m pretty sure that the UK can determine both what are corporate profits and the rate at which they can be taxed at the same time.

Why am I wrong and Ritchie right?

Google and Corporation Tax

The Sunday Times investigates Google\’s tax arrangements in the UK. Well, actually, they have Richard Murphy read the accounts for them.

In a nutshell when you buy an ad from Google you do so from Google Ireland rather than Google UK. Thus tax on any profits ends up in the Irish Treasury rather than the UK one.

How awful.

Now, can we actually identify how this state of affairs has come to pass? Why, actually, yes we can. It\’s called the European Union.

Part of this Single Market thing is that any company registered anywhere in the EU can trade anywhere else in the EU. VAT is to be collected and paid at the rate of and to the government of where the sale takes place (the physical location of the customer).

Corporation tax is paid at the rate of and to the government of the country where the supplier is located (legally located and registered that is. The brass name plate.)

That\’s it. Google is simply doing not just what it is allowed to do under EU law but what it is positively encouraged to do under EU law. Take part in the Single Market.

Strangely, we don\’t see any of the federasts complaining about Google paying Eire instead of the UK pointing this out. That it\’s an inevitable consequence of the EU and the Single Market.

Excuse me?

Another former senior tax inspector said: "One of the problems the Revenue has is that the company doesn\’t have to disclose the amount of tax actually paid in any year and the accounts won\’t reveal the liability. Each company has its own method of accounting for tax: there\’s no uniform way of declaring it all."

Surely the Revenue can just look at the cheques it has received to work out how much tax a company has paid?