As it’s nearly Christmas I thought that rather than hear me talking about Accountancy, you would prefer instead to hear the familiar story of the Victorian miser: Ebenezer Scrooge (and with apologies to Charles Dickens).
‘Twas nearly midnight on Christmas Eve and Scrooge had just said good night to his clerk: Bob Cratchit and locked up the shop for night. So he shuffled off to bed with a glass of port to keep him company, but before he drifted off to sleep he had time to reflect on the day’s events and his life in general.
In reality he was not really happy that Bob was taking tomorrow off work meaning that the shop had to be closed for a whole day. However on the plus side Scrooge was content that he had control of his life and the people in it…and most important of all, was able to keep his costs down.
For example he did all his own book-keeping so that he did not have to pay his Accountants: Artful Dodger & Co to do it…and when Bob suggested that his friend Ambrose could do a better job which would allow Scrooge to focus on taking the business forward, Scrooge just said “Bah Humbug!”
Scrooge had met the Artful Dodger many years ago in a local alehouse and had been impressed, not only by how cheap his fees were, but with how much money he could save by following his tax saving advice….and although to be honest he thought their schemes sounded “dodgy” his attitude was “why not, It’s their neck on the line, not mine……isn’t it?”.
Also although Bob worked full time, Scrooge insisted that it was on a Self-Employed basis, meaning that not only was Scrooge saving lots of PAYE and National insurance (which actually Bob had to pay instead) but also Bob had no employee rights and so could be dismissed without notice. Bob had often said this made him feel demotivated and exploited (or words to that effect).
However Scrooge was not so happy that he had received a letter that morning from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs opening a tax investigation, which amongst other things, questioned those “dodgy” expenses the Artful Dodger was claiming in the accounts and also asked why Bob’s wages were shown as “Consultancy”.
Anyway by now Scrooge was in deep sleep….However he was awoken by the clank-clank of chains and by what appeared to by the ghost of his deceased partner: Jacob Marley! Jacob pointed a ghostly finger at Scrooge and accused him of taking advantage of his poor widow, because although they had built the business together, Scrooge had failed pay her any share of the profits because there had been no written partnership agreement obliging him to do so. What’s more Jacob said the partnership should have incorporated years ago to save tax and give them more security. Scrooge bowed his head in shame as he realised this was still true as he was now a Sole trader.
Before he left (chains still clinking) Jacob advised that Scrooge should take heed of the advice of his next visitor…the ghost of Accountants Present and of what could be in the Future (otherwise known as Alan), who unlike Artful was a Chartered Accountant …but not to worry because this visit would be free and without obligation.
When Alan arrived Scrooge learned sadly that the Artful Dodger would not take any responsibility for the dodgy tax returns or accounts and that he himself would have to pay any extra tax or penalties that arose out of the investigation. However Scrooge was pleasantly surprised to hear that he was not without salvation but he would need to change Accountants to Alan’s firm. Alan had a tax expert called Tony to help with the tax investigation and minimise the tax and penalties payable. Tony was a “Gamekeeper turned Poacher” so called because he used to work for HMRC and knew the Inspectors job better than they did themselves. Also Alan would help sort out a proper contract of employment for Bob which would make him happy too.
Scrooge listened intently as Alan advised that he should “go limited” and devote his time to working on the business, not within it and that a much happier life was still possible. However it meant following a well thought out business plan where Scrooge’s personal and business goals were identified and eventually obtained, by regular focus on pre-determined targets.
This was possible through regular meetings with Alan backed up with timely management accounts (which compared actual results with those targets). Also Alan’s tax saving schemes, (although they did actually save tax), were not dodgy….and they included putting money aside into pensions, following advice given by Alan’s friend: Nighat. Scrooge realised that if he had been more successful and had more time to devote to his personal life…that he may not have lost that girl he loved so dearly…..but was it now too late? He decided there and then to change Accountants to Alan Patient & Co.
Alan also knew many other people that could help Scrooge live a happier life…there was for example, Stewart who could arrange a mortgage to buy that cottage by the sea, and Mardon to decorate it, as well as Katherine to straighten out his crooked back.
And finally Scrooge was surprised to learn that although Alan’s fees were more than Artful’s that they were actually affordable and that when taken as a whole with the tax he would save legally, represented much better value for money.
Well my friends although this tale is obviously fictitious maybe some of it will sound familiar….and unlike in Scrooge’s world I am real and can really help.
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