Insight / Top 75 firms survey 2016: merger frenzy

Accountancy’s annual Top 75 UK firms survey indicates an acquisitive mood among ambitious mid-tier firms and shifts among the Big Four rankings for the first time in years as annual fee income hits £12.8bn, and EY eclipses KPMG in the rankings. Philip Smith reports

Accounting / Editor’s comment: IFRS 16 Leases splits definitions

An overhaul of lease reporting under IFRS 16 Leases means that companies will have to review their complete lease portfolio to avoid an uncomfortable hit on profitability, says Sara White

Insight / GSK chair to lead drive to raise number of women on FTSE 350 boards

The government has announced that Sir Philip Hampton, chairman of GlaxoSmithKline, is to lead an independent review on increasing representation of women in the executive level of FTSE 350 companies, where 80% of directorships are held by men

Tax / Call to cull £50 note to tackle tax evasion

High denomination, high value currency notes including the £50 note should be withdrawn in order to tackle tax evasion, money laundering and illicit money flows, according to an analysis prepared by Peter Sands, former group chief executive at Standard Charted Bank and a government adviser

Tax / HMRC defends accelerated payments regime with £2bn tax boost

HMRC has described the Accelerated Payment Notices (APN) regime as a ‘game changer’, saying it has collected over £2bn in disputed tax since the new rules were introduced in 2014 and is on course to raise its target of £5bn by 2020, despite recently withdrawing 2,000 notices issued in error to investors in an IR35 scheme operated by Montpelier

Audit / FCA internal audits show deficiencies remain

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) continues to have deficiencies in the way in which it handles crisis management, external communications and market sensitive issues according to the Treasury select committee’s review of the regulator’s internal audits, with MPs vowing to keep a ‘close eye’ on its performance

8 Feb 2016

Insight / EY ousts KPMG from number three spot in Top 75 Firms survey

For the first time, EY has pushed Big Four rival KPMG out of the number three slot in the annual Accountancy Top 75 accounting firms survey, hitting annual fee income of £2.01bn while the top 75 firms in the UK generated a record £12.8bn in revenues

Insight / One in three accountants looking for a new job as pay rises disappoint

More than a third of accountants are actively looking for a new job and many are considering moving abroad to achieve a better work life balance and higher pay, and this is likely to rise in the next 12 months, according to research from global jobs board

Audit / HBOS-KPMG: looking beyond the audit

Pubic and regulatory scrutiny is increasingly on auditors but perhaps it is time that the framework within which they operate shares the spotlight too, suggests Ross Dixon, partner at Hickman & Rose

Tax / HMRC denies self assessment hack attack

HMRC has refuted claims that it has been the target of deliberate hacking attacks organised by criminals during the run-up to the self assessment filing deadline, but says phishing attempts have been used to divert refunds due to taxpayers

Tax / ATT slams company distribution rules as burdensome and confusing

The Association of Taxation Technicians (ATT) has sounded a warning that HMRC’s plans to change current distributions rules to prevent company owners from converting income into capital in order to circumvent new rules on dividends, saying the proposed approach risks adding to the burden for both taxpayers and the tax authority itself, because of a lack of clarity

Insight / Acquisitive Baldwins takes on four more firms

Midlands firm Baldwins is continuing its expansion after almost doubling its size in the last 12 months with the acquisition of four more offices across the Midlands, with the latest acquisitions completed in a single week and a further deal anticipated in the next few days

Tax / HMRC issues warning over contractor loan tax avoidance schemes

As part of what it describes as a ‘relentless’ effort to crack down on tax avoidance, HMRC has put out two publications highlighting problems with contractor loan schemes and misleading claims from scheme promoters, in a bid to deter taxpayers from any involvement

Tax / Lords committee give draft Finance Bill final look

This afternoon sees HMRC and Treasury officials give evidence in the final session of the Lords economic affairs select committee inquiry into the Finance Bill 2016, which is focusing on whether the measures proposed in the draft Bill contribute to the simplification of the personal tax system and their impact on the compliance burdens of individual taxpayers

Tax / MP challenges tax deductible fines for banks

Andrew Tyrie, chairman of the Treasury select committee, has written to the Chancellor over concerns that banks might be able to offset the costs of fines, and other penalty payments required by regulators, against their corporation tax bill, a move he describes as ‘wholly unacceptable’

Technical Alerts

5 Feb 2016

Insight / Grant Thornton sets out shared enterprise in Vision 2020 strategy

Grant Thornton UK LLP has set out a five-year strategic plan to build the business, grow the client base and expand opportunities for staff under the shared enterprise model, reports Sara White

Tax / Dividend taxation changes: does it make tax sense to incorporate?

The changes to dividend taxation mean that incorporation may no longer be the best option for some sole traders and business owner managers. Stephen Relf CTA, tax writer at CCH considers the pros and cons

Insight / ‘Ponzi’ fraud accountants back behind bars

Two former accountants who were partners in a firm which used the names of celebrities to entice investors into a $200m (£102m) Ponzi scheme have found themselves back behind bars after the pair failed to pay their confiscation orders

Insight / Finance Mole: what’s up with my desk - standing room only

A delivery of some high-tech, adjustable standing desks leaves Finance Mole in a state of confusion as the finance team lose their conventional office surroundings in a drastic office makeover, while HMRC's Lin Homer is rewarded and resigns, and Crickhowell tries to emulate MNC tax policy with the Fair Tax Town push

Insight / Called to account: February 2016

Charity fraudsters jailed for £500K Gift Aid fraud, five-year jail sentence for accountant to the stars and HMRC books jail for car hire VAT fraud pair

Practice Development / FRC town hall on 2016/17 plans

The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) is holding an open meeting in London next week to give stakeholders the opportunity to comment on its priorities for 2016/17

Professional Development / Government consults on tougher rules for public sector redundancy payouts

The Treasury is consulting on proposals to modernise public sector redundancy rules and bring them in line with private sector practice, which it claims could save hundreds of millions of pounds by 2020

Practice Development / People in the news: Zoopla, PwC, Amazon, DWP, PKF Littlejohn, CBW

This week’s career moves include changes at PwC with announcement of a new air industry leader, a new post for Danny Alexander, a public sector role for former Amazon’s China expert, new CFO at Zoopla and new joiners at PKF Littlejohn

Practice Development / Accountants urged to cut red tape and collaborate

Bonuses and bureaucracy are bad for business decision making, while accountants need to improve their communication and collaboration skills if they are to get ahead, according to the findings of two recent surveys

Tax / CPD module on Scottish Rate of Income Tax (SRIT) – what you need to know

The latest CPD module focuses on the Scottish Rate of Income Tax (SRIT) due to come into force for all resident Scottish taxpayers from April 2016 

Insight / HMRC serves up jail sentence to takeaway accountant

An accountant from London, who set up bogus businesses and used former clients’ details to try to claim more than £86,000 in tax repayments, has been jailed for 20 months following an HMRC investigation

Audit / NAO criticises UK record on anti competitive behaviour

The introduction of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has significantly improved the UK’s competition regime, but business awareness of competition law remains low and there is a long way to go before the UK matches the performance other European countries in penalising anti-competitive behaviour according to a report from the National Audit Office (NAO)

Technical Alerts