About a week ago, I was lucky enough to meet our local MP, Theresa Villiers. I’d always heard good things about her and how hard-working she is, and she didn’t disappoint. In fact, it all started because I was having a bit of a moan about some of the new measures introduced in the July 2015 Budget, and some of the proposed changes in the Spring 2016 Budget. So I rattled off an e-mail to Theresa, and to my surprise I got a very nice reply and she agreed to meet me at my office. I was very impressed by this – she is probably always extremely busy, and especially so with the forthcoming EU Referendum.
I wanted to show her my set-up, and the high-tech which enables me to run a professional and friendly accountancy practice. I also wanted to show her what an accountant actually does, and that it’s not all smoke and mirrors. Essentially, I act for lots of clever, entrepreneurial people with normal families etc. The tax planning that I do for them is usually fairly low level, but very personal. It was also interesting to be able to contrast this with the recent Panama controversy, and David Cameron’s family tax affairs. I therefore made the following fairly simple points :-
– Talk of whether tax planning is ethical or not is completely irrelevant. It’s either legal or it isn’t. Debate the issues by all means, and if necessary then change the tax laws.
– However, a lot of the problems arise because the tax system is over-complicated and bureaucratic. There is too much giving with one hand, and taking with the other. Keep it simple, keep it fair, and then there will be considerably less tax avoidance.
– And then my final point, and which probably is political, is that some of the new measures will particularly hit hard middle-income earners, and those small business which have helped to pull the country out of the recession. I know that the country is still strapped for cash, but it seems to me that with the recent tax changes, there is still too much money simply going round in circles.
We also briefly discussed the EU Referendum, for which Theresa is in the Brexit camp. I told her that like a lot of people, I was still very much undecided, and didn’t really think that it had been debated terribly well so far, with too much scare-mongering and mud-slinging. Theresa thought that there could be a low turnout, which might favour Brexit.
In conclusion, I just want to say a few more words about Theresa Villiers herself. I know that she is a barrister, and I can certainly believe that she is a very good one. She is a good listener, very professional and I came away thinking that she is exactly the sort of person that we should have representing us. Plus, she is now Secretary of State for Northern Ireland – I know that politics is a funny game, but I sincerely hope that once the dust settles after the EU Referendum, that Theresa continues to hold high office. In fact, I’d be very happy to see Theresa Villiers as a future Prime Minister, and yours truly, The Friendly Accountant as Minister for Small Businesses !