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. Philip Smith reports

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

4 Feb 2016

Accounting / Charities SORP revised to reflect withdrawal of FRSSE

The final version of the Charities SORP (FRS 102) has now been published to reflect changes required following the implementation of FRS 102 in the UK and create a single charity accounting framework to cover all sizes of charity

Insight / Apprenticeship Levy under fire from devolved ministers

HMRC is facing calls from devolved ministers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to provide greater clarity around the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy, due to be brought in from April 2017, following concerns about compliance costs and the potential to undermine existing devolved apprenticeship schemes and confuse cross border employers

Insight / Tax claims management firm Rebus collapses

Administrators from Resolve have been called in to claims management group Rebus, which specialised in handling disputed tax avoidance schemes, and which has collapsed following a crowdfunding exercise, leaving dozens of investors out of pocket

Tax / HMRC issues warning on employee tax avoidance schemes

HMRC has issued a warning about tax avoidance schemes based on contracts for difference which some businesses are using to provide tax free or tax reduced rewards to their employees, and which the tax department has determined does not work

Practice Development / RSM adds to consulting capability via HR acquisition

RSM has acquired High Wycombe-based HR consulting business Right Hand HR Ltd for an undisclosed sum as part of a move to build up its HR services, including human resource management, employment law compliance, payroll, recruitment, training, development, change management and health and safety

Tax / Welsh Assembly urged to innovate on tax

The Welsh Assembly has been urged to develop ‘innovative’ tax policies in a major speech on devolution by Wales Office Minister Alun Cairns

Insight / Baker Tilly International revenues hit $3.8bn with 7% fee rise

Baker Tilly International has reported global combined revenues at the international accounting network rose 7%  for the 12 months ending June 2015 to $3.8bn (£2.6bn), the result of a large number of mergers and acquisitions

Tax / LITRG call for clarity on low value BIK

The Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (LITRG) says new rules regarding tax charges on low value benefits in kind (BIK) due to come into effect in April need further clarification, or there is a risk that some taxpayers on benefits may lose out

Accounting / Choosing the right FRS: accounting for deferred tax - part 4

In part four of our series on UK GAAP transition, Helen Lloyd FCA considers deferred tax pitfalls and the best accounting framework for UK companies from FRS 105 to full-blown FRS 102 or in some instances, IFRS

Tax / Insolvency Service online alert

The Insolvency Service has put out an alert warning that some users of its online services may currently be experiencing difficulties if they use either Chrome or Firefox as their internet browser

Technical Alerts