HMRC Watch is a new scheme set up by the IPCA, the Institute of Certified Practising Accountants, to "keep HMRC on their toes".
The ICPA were formed in recognition of the fact that little was being done to help the thousands of small accountancy practices throughout the UK known as local, or high street or GP accountants.
No one Institute or organisation was dedicated solely to these practices with the result that Accountants everywhere regardless of their Institute felt at best marginalised and at worst frankly abandoned.
The founders of the ICPA were all accountants in practice in varying institutes and they got together as friends to vent their mutual dissatisfaction and frankly have a good old moan about how they were being treated.
It soon dawned on them that moaning was getting them nowhere and out of this anger and frustration was borne the ICPA.
Strength in numbers
As a body for smaller firms and sole practitioners, the IPCA now has over 1000 members from around 800 practices and firms. As self-proclaimed "moaning" individuals, members felt too small and unimportant to get their thoughts and feelings out there. As a collective body they can make others aware of the problems HMRC are cause them and have somewhere to share their frustrations, anger and sense of injustice.
Not all doom and gloom
One benefit to gathering a group of people together is that some really good stories tend to be shared over a few drinks. Accounting Web lists some corkers on their website. My personal favourite is the tax inspector who spent 15 minutes questioning a business to establish if their dog was self employed!
In spite of the canine incident, it is usually the business that drops the ball during an inspection. One area that people trip over again and again is the use and documentation of company vehicles. This is where ABAX is helping clients all over Europe stay out of the dog house!
One particular case was a company in a small industrial unit. They were based on the second floor, which could only be reached by a very old lift or an even older staircase. During the visit the discussions centred on company cars and whether they were taken home by the directors. The director was adamant that the new £30k sports car was kept overnight on the premises and couldn’t possibly be taken home by any director. The director was then asked whether the car was driven up the stairs or fitted in the lift so it could be left on company premises. It then dawned on him that this may not have been the best answer to give.
In another case, a director confirmed that the large limousine in the car park with a personalised number plate (surprisingly, his initials) was a pool car available to all employees, including his 17-year-old son. However, when the paperwork was checked, the car was only insured for drivers over 25. While this was being discussed, with perfect timing, the son walked past in his motorbike gear on his way home for lunch. He then got on his scooter, with L-plates, that was parked by the front door. It was at this point the director saw the flaw in his statement and admitted that the vehicle was his company car and not a pool car.
/ Chris Miller