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Employment rights

One of the arguments used in the Brexit debate is that the EU has provided employment rights. Had Theresa May brought back her withdrawal agreement for a fourth time, as she had planned, it would have included provisions to match employment rights subsequently adopted by the EU. There are two points to note about all this. First, the UK is capable of introducing its own employment laws without requiring another body to do it. Consider these fundamental employment rights: right to a written contract of employment right not to have deductions from pay without unauthorised deductions right to be paid in legal tender and not in tokens notice periods for […]

No tears for betting job losses

On 4 July 2019, William Hill said it will close 700 stores, about a third, with the loss of 4,500 jobs. Other betting companies have made similar noises. It blames this on the reduction on the maximum stake for fixed odds betting terminals (FOTBs) from £100 to £2 per game. A game takes 20 seconds. Under the old limit, someone could stake £300 a minute. As with all gambling, this money is usually lost. Naturally I am sorry for staff who lose their jobs. They are probably ordinary people who see it as no different from working in a shop. But I shed no tears for the gambling industry. We […]

Inequity of loan charge

My company website for Tax Training Ltd routinely reports avoidance schemes that fail. to Normally I have little sympathy for those who are caught. Usually they dishonestly sought to avoid tax and were found out. But I do have sympathy for many victims of loan schemes who have been hit by the loan charge from April 2019. The government has an ambivalent attitude to tax avoidance. It regards this as immoral when done by commercial promoters, yet the government itself is the biggest promoter of avoidance schemes. The government lecturing accountants on the evils of tax avoidance is like King Herod lecturing us on the need for child protection. Until […]

Fiona Onasanya

On 1 May 2019, Fiona Onasanya, the Labour MP for Peterborough, became the first MP to be expelled from the House of Commons. She had been caught speeding. She claimed that someone else was driving when he was actually in Russia at the time. She was sent to prison for perverting the course of justice. The Labour party expelled her and asked her to resign, which she refused. An MP imprisoned for one year or more is automatically expelled. An MP imprisoned for a shorter period is now subject to recall under Recall of MPs Act 2015. This requires at least 10% of constituents to sign a petition. In this […]

Keeping the pennies

In 2018, the government consulted on whether to scrap 1p and 2p coins. In May 2019, it decided not to. This is clearly the correct decision. The two arguments are that: coins are now much less used, with only 22% of retail transactions in cash 60% of these coins are only used once before being stashed in jars or thrown away. The latter argument is questionable. What happens to jars of coins? They are usually changed for vouchers or higher value coins, perhaps using a coin machine. Alternatively they may be donated to charity which does a similar thing. I do not know of anyone who throws away coins. Once […]

VAT threshold

The VAT threshold has now been frozen at £85,000 a year since 2017 and is to be kept at that level until at least 2022. There had been talk of even reducing the threshold, perhaps even halving it to around £43,000. This would have created a huge amount of extra work for both HMRC and smaller businesses with little extra revenue to show for it. About three quarters of all VAT charged by a supplier is recovered as input tax by the customer. As Making Tax Digital is now compulsory for all traders with turnover above the threshold, this would have imposed even more burden on them. VAT is an […]

Quality of audit

There has been much recent comment on the quality of audit. This includes suggestions that the Big Four accountants should be broken up, all FT-SE 100 companies should be jointly audited with a non-Big Four company and that auditors should be banned from doing consultancy work with clients they audit. Certainly, the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has been getting more strident with record fines for accounting firms, both Big Four firms and smaller fry. FRC has suddenly grown teeth, but it is too late. On 11 March 2019, the government announced that FRC is to be abolished and replaced by a new Auditing, Reporting and Governance Authority (ARGA). FRC chairman […]