You may be expecting some wisdom on how to vote on the EU Referendum. If I had any to offer, I might be tempted, but I do not propose to advise you on something I do not understand. I have been itching to write something on the subject, fond as I am of my own verbosity, but quickly realised that the EU Referendum is a roll of the dice. So I decide to make some observations, and if those observations inform your choice, I apologise, for they have not yet informed mine.
In talking to people on the subject I notice that the Decidedly Inners appear to look with a plaintiff disbelief that anyone could possibly think otherwise than to remain. It is almost a religious fervour. Those, on the other hand, who are less sure, tend to look shyly as they tell of a secret immoral desire to vote to leave. A guilty apologetic pleasure exists among the not-Quite Decidedly Outers, as if theirs is a perversion, an irresistible, anti-establishment mischief. And this led me to think about the Referendum itself. For there is sheer dishonesty in the whole process, setting Big-Endians against Little-Endians, as if either actually knew which was right and which was wrong.
Continue reading “In, Out, Any Way the Wind Blows”
Not for the first time in my professional career, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs appear, in my humble view, to have failed the trust test. I do not wish to make any false accusations, so I will use words such as “may” and “appear”, and will leave it to the reader to consider the evidence. The irony though, is that HMRC is an organ of government, yet there seems to be evidence that it is not averse to pulling the odd fast one, however much it may bleat about nasty taxpayers who are happy to use the law to avoid tax.
Today I saw a new notice of coding for a client. This client, like most entrepreneurs, has a salary from his company and pays out excess profits, if any, by dividend. He has been doing so for some years – most years he pays a dividend. Some years he has not made enough profit to do so. Each year, he files a tax return which takes account of his employment income, other bits and pieces and his dividends. He has to make payments on account each year in accordance with the rules for self assessment. I doubt anyone will find this unusual.
Continue reading “Mother, should I trust the Government?”
We see much in the financial press about business sales and acquisitions as being an important barometer of economic activity. I thought it would be interesting to focus a little on this fascinating subject.
The question of how to grow, organically or through acquisition is one which always gives rise to debate among finance professionals, business advisers and businessmen themselves. Yet the answer to the question lies in the question itself and comes from a mathematical truth: two plus two always equals four (except, according to physicists, in the case of a nuclear reaction – an event that we can safely conclude would be bad for business). Growth can only ever be organic. Acquisition may make a business bigger but it is not growth. Though we should not make the mistake of thinking that it is there bad, and this article invites you to consider why you might acquire another business.
Continue reading “To acquire or to grow organically?”
There is something inevitable in the march of government to control every element of our lives. Those who know me, know I am hardly an anarchist. Yet I feel great distress when I see Parliament, the beating heart of our liberal democracy, “cracking down” as I see it written in the papers, on freedom. Today it was reported in The Times that doctors, those evil ne’er do wells who scrounge on society to gain knowledge and experience so that, despicably, they might cure the sick and save lives, and thereby, cynically destroy the pensions of those who would have survived anyway, will be forced to enter into contractual obligations to work in the NHS for some time after qualifying. This used to be called servitude, I fear.
Let us completely forget that these same people, whose typical earnings working for the NHS might double those of a London tube driver as they reach the top of their profession, are the highest performing academics in the land, who must give up at least seven years of their lives to impoverished study to reach their heady status. Let us also forget that these folk may indeed have just a little more value to society than, well most politicians, lawyers and accountants. Let us cast from our minds that doctors use their knowledge to heal us and our children. Oh… And let us also ignore the fact that the NHS is a monopoly employer, the only choice in the UK for a Junior Doctor to work, even now. In doing this, we wage a righteous war on those who have the effrontery to consider that hard work, intelligence and achievement, along with helping society and humanity should ever be rewarded. But what has this got to do with business?
Continue reading “Government and Doctors; Just another brick in the wall”
Today it was reported that a banker has gone to jail for fourteen years for fixing LIBOR. I cannot help but feel that somehow, something does not sit right here. Can a single individual truly fix the inter-bank lending rate? If so, should we blame him when he does so, or should we blame the system? Is it only me that sees this as having something of the scapegoat about it?
Banking is all about buying and selling money, and taking margins between the two. So, a banker will always do his best to get the best margin he can in any financial transaction; that is his job. Now it does seem that Mr Hayes may have gone out of his way to manipulate the system in a manner that is unacceptable, but he could not have done so single handed. Nor could he have done so if the system he was manipulating were sufficiently robust to prevent manipulation.
Continue reading “Libor Liberty”
In case you have ever worried that Parliament does not do very much, take a look at the volume of legislation that afflicts us these days. If you wonder why your best friend requires a copy of your passport before he will sit and drink a glass of wine with you, or why your partner will not let you eat your dinner until you have identified yourself with your postcode, the first line of your address and your date of birth, look to legislation. Legislation was once the reluctant last choice for dealing with any issue, now the phrase “there ought to be a law against…” has been taken to heart by our leaders.
I remember reading that someone had worked out that in the ten years from 1997 to 2007, there were more new laws introduced by Parliament than had been introduced in the entire century from 1897 to 1997. Perhaps that does depend on what you mean by a “new law”, but the point is quite clear. In 1997, my books of tax legislation took up less than half the shelf space than they do today.
Continue reading “Legislation, legislation, legislation”