2015 - Emile Woolf writes

The cost of complexity – our taxation patchwork

The  cost  to  our  exchequer  of  tax  complexity  is  highlighted  by  the  government’s  recent   attack  on  “umbrella”  companies  set  up  by  employees  wishing  to  shelter  behind  a   corporate  veil  to  avoid  PAYE  and  national  insurance  levies.  The  Treasury  slapped  a  £1   million  fine  on  the  Ministry  of  Defence  for  its  failure  to […]

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IFRS under attack – this time it’s serious!

Arguments over accounting’s role in the 2008 financial crisis persist. Few would go so far as to pin responsibility entirely on the permissive IAS 39 loss-recognition rules, but even their staunchest defender would concede that their labyrinthine intricacy rendered their meaning impenetrable. Many readers will recall Sir David Tweedie’s quip in 2005, when he chaired […]

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PRUDENT ACCOUNTING – NEEDED MORE THAN EVER

Unaccountable accounting began three decades ago. I know, because I was there when it happened. As a member of the UK Auditing Practices Committee (APC), I acted as its observer on the Accounting Standards Committee (ASC). Professional life was simpler then: ASC set the accounting standards, effectively UK GAAP, and APC set the auditing standards. […]

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Auditors must not disregard the client’s culture

  How to gauge the effectiveness of audits? It is tempting to point to the growing scale of undetected irregularities and outright frauds and conclude that external audits are simply not fit for purpose. Yet there is no objective measure for assessing how much worse things would be without them. What if corporate propriety resided […]

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Paying the price for delusional regulation – at every level

  Legislators and bureaucrats seem incapable of distinguishing idealism from what is achievable in the real world. We saw a couple of months ago that Greece was granted a third bailout after promising its creditors a primary surplus of tax receipts over government spending for the foreseeable future. As expected, its economy then plunged straight […]

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If audits disregard the client’s culture, they are an expensive waste of time

  How to gauge the effectiveness of audits? It is tempting to point to the growing scale of undetected irregularities and outright frauds and conclude that external audits are simply not fit for purpose. Yet there is no objective measure for assessing how much worse things would be without them. What if corporate propriety resided […]

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My take on the Greek drama

Letter to a professional colleague and friend: Dear Richard, You may already have read the piece below, taken from the “Accountancy Live” website, but it sets out some relevant observations which I hope you will read, and which please feel free to pass to others. You ask for my take on it. I don’t have […]

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Correspondence with former student

Hi Richard You are right – I don’t write the articles for the paltry sum that they pay. I write them because that is the only way to sort out my own thinking on these tricky subjects. I learnt that from the late, great, Geoffrey Holmes, editor of Accountancy. Whenever he and I wrestled with […]

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AUDIT STANDARDS & CURRENCY GAMES

Audit standards under scrutiny The Financial Reporting Council’s Audit Quality Inspection unit reports repeatedly of lapsed standards in each of the largest firms. Recent conclusions refer to “misleading references in tender documents”; “breaches of ethical standards”; “lack of oversight”; “need to improve audit procedures”, and the like. The size of global corporations expands exponentially, while […]

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