Don’t look back in anger

I originally started this article with “It is only when you look back that you can find how far you have come.  And as we come to the end of another year, it does not hurt to look back.”
However, it did!

Looking back

I got to Brexit and quite frankly the admission by Mrs May, the UK Prime Minister, on 19 December that she and her senior ministers had formally discussed for the first time what the UK’s long-term relationship with the EU should be really made me feel that the rest of the year of grief and turmoil over Brexit had been a waste of time. Indeed, this was a shock even after another recent revelation by the UK Government that economic analyses they had boasted about and upon which they had relied did not exist.

Many people who read this newsletter are business people, business advisers and business investors. Would you run a business like this? But it does answer an important question as to Brexit.
We’ve sought clarity for a long time and now we know that there isn’t any.

We can choose to just get on with things as best we can, making our decisions on what we know, or we can join the UK Government and do nothing. Of course, if we do nothing we will soon run into trouble with our businesses, so that’s not a real choice for us. Mind you, we could improve our cash flow by playing fast and loose with our tax declaration and payments, following the example of the UK Government. Sorry – only slightly tongue in cheek, but you get the point, not least because they are wasting our money!

Looking forward

So, I have put together a wish list for 2018 which is about as substantive as the UK’s position on Brexit.


Could we please have a trade agreement in the round by Easter?
Could we please have operational detail by September 2018?
And please could common sense prevail, and a five-year transitional period be agreed – everyone knows that two years won’t do it, so why not admit to that negotiators?

UK Taxation

Could the reduced resources of HMRC please concentrate on collecting tax from the largest avoiding taxpayers, starting with the corporates? Cracking one set of arrangements would be enough to reward the effort. Tax avoidance is legal. So is successfully stopping it. We work hard protecting businesses which are subject to tax investigations. tax dispute work is a key part of what we do, and we are good at it. But can it be right to drag a case out for two years over £40,000 from a retired small businessman in poor health with no liquid assets?

Please could we finish off the “new” IT projects, and particularly those which relate to international trade? And then make sure they work? Properly? And make sure that taxpayers can use them? Please? And don’t start any more until we’ve achieved that? Please? We all know that Information Technology can be a money pit, especially when it does not work properly, or has been superseded by the time it is implemented? And after all, the UK Government’s track record in such matters is not good.

Scrap MTD (Making Tax Digital). It is a waste of time and money for UK businesses. The timing of introduction coinciding with Brexit is appalling. And please take the new points based penalty system with it. We don’t need another set of penalties. As for the new systems – please see my earlier comments – free up some resource by at least shelving MTD.

UK Government spending

Call a moratorium on “great ideas”, particularly in the NHS and Education, and concentrate on properly funding and getting right what we have now. As a country apparently determined to get rid of “red tape”, why do we tie ourselves up in it?

I guess Brexit comes in here, but my wish to scrap Brexit in order to save £billions of wasted money, red tape and administrative hassle will fall upon deaf ears. My justification? Please see “Brexit” above. Who would commit to spending at least £50bn when they don’t know what they intend to achieve? Except a Government, of course, spending someone else’s money.

Love and peace for the world

This is a tax wish – conflict costs Governments money. Governments’ money comes from taxation. Remember, that colonies have been lost over taxation to pay for wars.
Normally this last wish would be the most outlandish. However, given the other wishes on my list, it is probably the most achievable!

And “Don’t look back in anger”? Noel Gallagher’s lyric makes more sense every day when faced with all of this.

We wish you a Happy Christmas and a Prosperous and Peaceful New Year.

Doing business differently

As a practice we have worked hard to move ourselves onto web based products so that our team can work anywhere with a decent Wi-Fi connection. We also like to think Covertax is well entrenched in 21st century values.
Our infrastructure means we all have access to video conferencing and telephone conferencing. We do not see these as a real substitute to meeting face to face, but there are times when it is a sensible solution.

Right now is one such example.

We are based in Coventry in the heart of the UK which is about to see its worst snowfall for thirty years. For those of you living outside the UK, you may wonder what the problem with a few centimetres of snow is, but we in the UK are just not set up to manage severe weather. Whilst the weather is a well know British obsession, extreme weather always seems to catch us by surprise – for example, there is no requirement or encouragement to have a set of winter tyres for our vehicles.

Accordingly, over the next few days we expect road closures, public transport disruption and also communications and power disruption.

We will continue to do business but all team members are encouraged not to put themselves or anyone else, including the emergency services, at risk. We all can and do work from home.
However, there may be some disruption to our service caused by power or communication failures, for which I am sorry.

We have added our Severe Weather Policy to our website so please feel free to read and share it.
The Severe Weather Policy include reference to team members who are vulnerable persons. We also apply it to our vulnerable clients – we do not wish to put them at risk.

Steve Botham