I never thought I’d hear myself saying: “I’ve just been to a chartered accountants’ conference about tax and really enjoyed it.”
But that’s exactly what happened to me last Friday when I popped up to the City of London for an ICAEW event entitled Deconstructing Tax.
Now, I’m not saying I understood everything that was said, nor am I going to drop everything and retrain as a CA. (For a start I’m 56 and, even if I were a bit younger I don’t think my brain would be up to the challenge!)
Number crunching contemporaries
But I learned a lot and, hopefully, my face will look slightly less baffled next time I’m chatting accountancy with my number-crunching contemporaries.
First up at the grand HQ of the Institute of Chartered Accountants England and Wales was renowned tax expert and lecturer Rebecca Benneyworth.
She took to the stage gingerly, wearing a leg-supporting boot following an accident. But Rebecca still delivered her session with amazing energy and poise, keeping her audience interested in key tax issues of the finance bills of 2018-19 for a full hour.
Even with a few amusing asides on Teslas (of which she is a proud leasee) and family matters, that’s no mean feat.
On the side of freedom
John Cassidy, partner at Crowe Clark Whitehill LLP, focused on HMRC inquiries – their myths, developments and cases.
With a fairly low-key style John is incredibly detailed and well informed – and firmly on the side of freedom of the individual.
On the Data Protection Act, he says: “The idea is to protect data, not make you give it up.” This refers to some of the fast-and-loose practices adopted by HMRC inspectors in trying to extract information.
John is excellent at getting to the point…
“The power to inspect does not allow a search for assets or documents. Inspect means to look at what you can see but not look for something you can’t.”
And as a rule of thumb: “Inspect is by eye, search is by hand.”
Technical and challenging
“Topical issues for owner managed business sales” does not sound that enticing. But Peter Rayney makes a technical and challenging area accessible with an injection of energy, dry humour and imagination.
For instance, his examples of companies being bought, sold or hived down for the purposes of Substantial Shareholding Exemption take on the guise of Seventies music heroes. So Baez Ltd is owned by Joan and Bob (presumably Dylan).
Or The Motown Group plc sets up a trading subsidiary called (Stevie) Wonder Ltd. In the degrouping portion of the talk we are even introduced to Coldplay Ltd.
Great stuff but, for now anyway, please address your SSE questions to Peter.
Donna Dimmack of Lloyds Banking Group led the conference into lunch with a light, user-friendly but relevant presentation on the all too serious issue of cyber-crime.
Judging by the lively QA session at the end, I get the impression we should all be doing more to improve our online security and vigilance.
After a little time to network after lunch, it was back to business when the focus turned to the hot topic of off-roll payroll working.
Sharon Cooke of accountants’ training group Swat took on IR35 – Reflecting on the public sector changes.
IR35 is set to rumble on and on … in fact the ICAEW is running a webinar on this very subject on October 24.
ICAEW on tax and MTD
The day concluded with some practical points from the ICAEW’s Tax Faculty team.
Frank Haskew, Anita Monteith, Sue Moore and Carol Miskin provided valuable insights on the profession’s thinking on subjects such as Brexit, agent services accounts and amending corporation tax returns.
On Philip Hammond’s Budget, set for October 29 the ICAEW has one simple message: “Don’t do anything!”
I couldn’t have put it better myself.
And capping off an educational day, who better that ICAEW president Paul Aplin on the perils and pleasures of MTD!