You know what it is like. You have an early start … the alarm went off at 3.39am. You have a lot to plan and organise and so you look for ways to save time and effort. This is my day for writing. I had decided on my theme for today and it was one I had written about on a number of occasions. So, I thought I would cheat and so went looking for an old article that I could recycle. I probably spent as long looking for a cheat, a copy of an old article, as it would have taken me to just put words down afresh. I am sure we all do it to a greater or lesser extent.
The funny thing is that as we grow and develop as people, we get better at what we do, so I know that, if I had found an old article, which thankfully I did not, I would have needed to rework it anyway because of what I have experienced and learnt since I first put it together. Mind you, it can sometimes work the other way and re-reading this old stuff reminds me of good ideas and strategies that I may have forgotten. How’s your memory? I used to work with someone who said that he had perfect recall. I did not like to argue and just agreed that he had perfect recall of 100% of what he could remember. Of course, I did not say that to him. No point!
I always think that I have a good memory. There is so much stuff that I have learnt and mostly forgotten. Then, every so often, some memory leaks out of some dark crevice in my mind, and it is something that I had not thought of for years, So, perfect(?) memory but the operating system in my head needs an upgrade. I think it’s still in DOS and I need to convert to Windows at the very least.
So, why was I up so early? It’s a Monday morning and is not one of my usual early start days. That is almost irrelevant but suffice to say that I needed to catch a ferry. I don’t usually have a problem getting up at any time and this morning was no exception. But as we sailed and I watched the sun rising over the sea on a fresh clear April morning, I felt like some battery in my soul was being recharged. We are indeed privileged to be able to live and work in the Highlands and Islands. I have lived and worked in many different locations in the UK, but this feels like home. But then you know the old saying, home is where the heart is.
Here’s a thought for you! Did you realise that VAT in the UK was 50 years old on 1 April. Most people have never known anything else, just like they never knew all the issues there were before joining the EU. We are not there anymore so which way is the UK heading? I am staying out of the politics of this but we will just have to wait and see.
VAT is a European tax and was introduced to the UK as part of the UK’s membership. The concept is very simple but in practice, it can produce some strange outcomes. It has to be said that many of these are brought about by the UK not wanting to impose the tax on certain items in this country. How can anyone forget the Jaffa Cake case which went all the way through the court system to establish whether the humble Jaffa Cake was indeed a cake or a biscuit, because one is zero rated while the other is standard rated. So picture this. highly paid barristers and solicitors in court discussing how much orange jelly was in a Jaffa Cake and its implications for its status as a biscuit or cake. Mind you, they did manage to promote the concept that a biscuit gets soft with age but a cake dries and goes hard. How many years of legal training made that possible!
Let me leave you with this thought today. There are no bad laws, only bad lawmakers! If the laws were well thought out, coordinated and properly implemented, we would all be in a much better place. And there is no better example than our present tax system, a hotchpotch of rules littered with patches and sticking plaster legislation. Mind you. If they made it too simple, I would be out of a job and that would mean that I and all the other accountants would have to get proper jobs. Don’t like the sound of that.
More crazy tax legislation please Mr. Hunt! Come on, I know you have it in you!
Alan E Long
The Long Partnership