Written by Ian Moss, Accounting Insight Editor: Welcome to Accountex North‘s new Weekly Insight into what’s happening in the worlds of accountancy, finance and, to be honest, whatever else takes our fancy….

Where do you start with the collapse of the UK construction colossus Carillion? Well, take your pick from any number of alleged idiocies, indiscretions and/or errors.

For starters, the liquidation of the debt-ridden group is a cause for deep concern in areas of governance and auditing.

But, as the National Audit Office has highlighted, the fallout from the debacle also calls into question the entire Private Finance Initiative. Millions have been lost on infrastructure projects that have proved more expensive than other types of government borrowing.

Criticism of PFI post-Carillion comes from both ends of the political spectrum. The GMB calls it a “catastrophic waste of taxpayers’ money”. Former Tory Cabinet minister David Willetts, once a PFI proponent, admits that several recent projects have gone wrong.

Meanwhile, thousands of small companies, Carillion suppliers, wonder (probably for not that long) if they’ll ever get paid.  The group’s pension fund  is also in dire jeopardy. This is so not a heart-warming story of good business. Worse, PFI has been flagged up as a disaster zone for ages, as had Carillion’s problems.

And now this whole sorry story looks set to run and run.

The big Apple digs deep and deeper

Apple has stumped up more UK  tax and interest, which is nice. According to the Financial Times, the tech behemoth paid an extra £81m after an “extensive” audit. This amount comes on the heels of last week’s £136m, from Apple Europe, a subsidiary. The HMRC investigation brought in a total of £217m.

And Apple has already set aside €13bn to potentially cover what the EU says the group owes in Ireland. Apple says:  “We know the important role that tax payments play in society. Apple pays all that we owe according to tax laws and local customs in the countries where we operate.”

Over in Donald Trump’s America, CNBC, among others, reported that: “Apple announces plans to repatriate billions in overseas cash, says it will contribute $350bn to the US economy over the next five years.” This, in part, will be due to the President’s tax cuts. Of its $250bn stash in overseas cash, the multinational will pay $38bn in US repatriation tax.

“We have a deep sense of responsibility to give back to our country and the people who help make our success possible,” Apple boss Tim Cook said in a statement.

Overall, the spending spree, should create about 20,000 US jobs. Nice, again. But, I guess all of this just goes to show that Apple’s money really does make the world go round.

Unleashed from the west

Over at our media partners AccountingWeb, John Stokdyk reports that Kiwi inventory app maker Unleashed is boosting its UK presence. It has started expanding its west of England set-up in Bristol and is considering adopting it as the group’s northern hemisphere HQ.

In case you’re wondering, the app is “designed to be an online supply chain management tool catering for operational teams, sales staff and finance, with modules to manage stock, to control purchasing and handling of materials that go into finished items, and the distribution of those goods to customers.”

A success story in the making?

Sir… the dog ate my tax return!

The media folk at HMRC should be commended on their efforts to combat the effects of these dark, depressing days of January.

In a press release dated January 17, headlined “Aliens, vertigo, and a Glasgow nightclub included in this year’s expenses and excuses”, the team treated us to an amusing set of anecdotes from the “rejected” pile in the self-assessment archive.

Among the ‘reasons’ for not completing returns on time were:

  • I couldn’t file my return on time as my wife has been seeing aliens and won’t let me enter the house.
  • I’ve been far too busy touring the country with my one-man play.
  • My ex-wife left my tax return upstairs, but I suffer from vertigo and can’t go upstairs to retrieve it.

On the expenses front, one person put down “birthday drinks in a Glasgow nightclub”!

All good, cheery stuff. But fear not, normal HMRC service was resumed less than 24 hours later with another release, snappily entitled: “Table 13.1 Number of trusts and estates, income and tax from trust by type of trust and type of tax January 2018.” Phew.

Watch out for next Friday’s Weekly Insight. In the meantime, if you have any comments, or content ideas for us here at Accountex North, please let us know in the box below or drop me a line at [email protected]


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