Swiss bank accounts? HSBC? Tax Evasion Bad!

Swiss bank accounts? HSBC? Tax Evasion Bad!

I do always encourage feedback from you, the readers of my blog. Whilst there is no facility for comment on the actual page please feel free to email me with your views and let me know if you would like me to address any particular subjects in the future.

One email I received last week invited me to share any views I have of recent press reports about HSBC, Swiss banks, tax evasion and tax avoidance all of which are hot topics at the moment.

My political position, if I have one, is that I believe in democracy and capitalism. I think that Churchill said that “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time”. If you have a real Democracy, you will have Capitalism. People want to own things and to be free to sell their labour and spend their money as they see fit.

One consequence of capitalism is that some people get rich. Over all, people prefer to be rich. If people are getting rich then they are earning, and earnings can be taxed. Tax pays for hospitals and roads and other expensive and necessary good things.

The problem, if there is a problem, is that no one much wants to pay tax and in Britain particularly we tend not to enjoy it very much if other people are richer than we are.

As to paying tax:- we have a tax system in England and because England is a Democracy therefore we presumably have the tax system we deserve or at least the one we voted for. So whether or not we like them, there are rules. The rules dictate when tax must be paid. If tax does not need to be paid then tax is avoided. If tax is due and is not paid then tax is evaded. The two words are not the same. Tax avoidance is legal and is what all of us do quite properly. Tax evasion is what criminals do.

It used to be understood, very simply, that if a person arranged their monetary affairs so that within the rules no tax became payable that is tax avoidance and quite right too. Some, [all?], of the tax rules are very complicated so Accountants specialise in helping you understand the tax rules and helping you to avoid tax.

On the other hand if a Bank or an Accountant were illegally helping you to hide money to evade Tax then that is a criminal offence of assisting in tax evasion. So the understanding I grew up with is, Tax Avoidance Good, Tax Evasion Bad.

Nowadays it all seems to be much more complicated. In my opinion the problem results from a combination of human jealousy and tax law complexity.

The Press I suspect is worried that few and fewer people are buying Newspapers. It perhaps has a vested interest in stirring up a lot of ill feeling to sell papers and in recent times has appeared to take delight in publishing the names of high profile pop stars and comedians who have avoided tax – sometimes a lot of tax – with highly complicated arrangements. Avoided, note. The thing we all do if we own an ISA or indeed, as one cartoon going the rounds has it, as we all do if we simply don’t work.

The other recent thread is the successful Corporations – Starbucks – Amazon, – which are said to have implemented “Artificial” schemes to avoid enormous taxes. Interesting word “Artificial” in that context given that the Tax system itself is entirely artificial. The point, in my opinion, is that tax is artificial and tax avoidance is equally artificial but not criminal.

The Press in my further opinion is [wilfully or actually?] illiterate and rarely uses the correct word when speaking either of Tax Avoidance or of Tax Evasion and usually fails to observe the difference. Assuming that the people who read their words are ignorant, jealous and poor, Journalists are probably pretending to feel outrage on behalf of a readership for whom they more likely feel scorn.

My view is that if politicians are careless enough to leave big holes in tax law, we owe it to ourselves to drive a coach and horses through the gap. Do you think I am wrong?

Anyway, Comedians and Pop-stars and Coffee Shops chains rely on public approval. They need to be liked, so that people will continue to buy tickets and coffee. So we have been witnessing the spectacle of public apologies and sack-cloth and ashes, in order to get back ”On Side” with the people who read the Newspapers and all for what?

For arranging tax affairs entirely legally so as to limit the tax bill. Just as we all would except for a few Saints.

Where should this end?

Should I apologise for owning a few ISAs – should a lorry driver apologise for not working an available overtime shift thus reducing his potential income and thereby reducing his tax?

Is there a Moral to all this? Do I have any more cogent view as to Swiss banks and tax evasion – No, not really!

The tax system is what we voted for. We should all pay our tax. We should all unashamedly avoid tax to the full extent that the tax system that we voted for allows it. No one should evade tax. No Bank should make it their business to facilitate crime. And we should not be jealous of the Rich Man.

Moral panic might sell newspapers but seems to me to be unhealthy and to make Society meaner and nastier. In his recent blog the comedian Frankie Boyle has written “I do not read newspapers anymore – I just lie to myself and cut out the middle man”. In my opinion he is no fool.

I cannot assist you personally in minimising your tax obligations – I am not an Accountant.
However I am a very experienced Notary Public ready to provide my Notarial Services whenever I can assist you – Do please contact me. I am at http://www.atkinsonnotary.com and +44 (0)113 816 0116 and notary@atkinsonnotary.com or louise@atkinsonnotary.com

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The Internet Will Disappear During The Next Few Years – Says Google

The Internet Will Disappear During The Next Few Years?

All Lawyers and, perhaps, in particular Notaries are keenly interested in the meaning of words.

I was at first rather taken aback by a recent statement made by Eric Schmidt. He is the Executive Chairman of Google a Company which has become rich because of the almost universal adoption of its services by Internet users.

He relies upon the Internet to provide his enormous wealth yet Eric Schmidt has said at the world economic forum in Davos “I WILL ANSWER VERY SIMPLY THAT THE INTERNET WILL DISAPPEAR”.

Come again?

Oh, Yes, I see. Most English speakers are now using the word “disappear” to mean “Go Away” “Die out” and “Cease To Exist”.

Of course “disappear” literally means none of the above. It means “become non-apparent”.

Accordingly the statement of Mr Schmidt means the exact opposite of what many people would initially believe him to mean. Mr Schmidt is telling us that the Internet will become so woven into the fabric of all our lives and every aspect of them that it will be omnipresent and as such, like the air that we breathe, no longer apparent to us.

Mr Schmidt is talking about a world just round the corner, where not only our phones and computers, but also our fridges, gas boilers, our wrist watches, cars, the front door lock of our houses, our bicycles measuring our heart rates, our burglar alarms and most of the clothes that we wear even, are all connected to the Internet. Maybe even surgical implants – the Internet under our skins.

That sort of disappearing! So “Disappearing” means – “Taking Over”. Who knew?

One presumes that Eric Schmidt knows what he is talking about if anyone does. He is describing a very interesting future for us all, is he not? As well as a vocabulary lesson.

Anyway, back to what remains of the present day – I have not disappeared in any sense of the word; I am as ever here in Leeds and ready to provide my Notarial Services – Do please contact me whenever I can assist. I am at http://www.atkinsonnotary.com and +44 (0)113 816 0116 and notary@atkinsonnotary.com or louise@atkinsonnotary.com

Scammers and Cheats – Understand What They Do – Protect Your Elderly Friends

In my blog last Month I set a small challenge – can you recognise a scam or phishing emails?

I trust that those of you who took the online quiz achieved a satisfactorily high score. If you did, Well Done – but you probably weren’t the target anyway.

Did you know that these scammers in their initial emails are deliberately using poor grammar and bad spelling? This is a cynical ploy to ensure that better educated recipients will immediately delete the emails.

You are too much trouble, you are not the target – the target is the poorly educated, the gullible, the vulnerable and, usually, the elderly recipient.

Also of course scammers are not limited to computer users.

There is, according to various police websites a relatively little known industry of scamming which is targeted at elderly people using post or telephone calls. In October there were news reports of ten people arrested who netted over two million pounds from pensioners in Bristol alone. This is a multi-million pound operation annually.

An alarming aspect of this seems to be that the elderly victims are being brainwashed into an attitude of denial.

I include below a link to a website of a registered charity called “Think Jessica” and one and two other useful links. Think Jessica says – People with JSS [Jessica Scam Syndrome] have been “brainwashed” by criminals who are having an easy and assisted passage into their homes, minds and bank accounts.

The definition of brainwashing:-
“To make someone believe a falsehood by repeatedly telling them that it’s true and preventing any other information from reaching them”

They do this by posing as various characters e.g. lottery officials, bankers, solicitors, presidents of companies, clairvoyants or Police agents, some send out catalogues and repeatedly promise the victim a large cash prize if they place an order.

Some vulnerable people have spent thousands of pounds chasing non-existent prizes.

Scammers are ruthless, calculating and clever. They use the voice of authority to swear victims to secrecy and scammers posing as clairvoyants say things like “your family are against you” and “those pretending to help you, wish you harm”.

The idea is to constantly fill the victims’ heads with the “voices” of these characters until they become unable/unwilling to listen to anyone else.

Once snared JSS victims do not have the mental capacity to understand they are being scammed, even if they are told time and time again by family or professionals (read Jessica’s story)

Think Jessica is continually contacted by relatives of people with JSS, thousands of these have emptied their bank accounts and some have gone on to suffer disturbed mental health and have even been sectioned after years of trying to keep up with the criminals’ constant demands for cash.

JSS sufferers have attempted suicide and committed suicide. There are shocking DVDs on the “Stories & DVDs” page.

If you have an elderly relative with or without a computer who is a victim, the first obvious warning sign is often surprisingly large amounts of junk mail being sent to them every day. The reason for this of course that once a scammer has received a reply then your relative’s name and address is likely to become very quickly distributed [sold] to other scammers.

Perhaps you notice unexplained items of junk jewellery or delicatessen food – perhaps coffee beans or sausage – which your parent would not usually have ordered [scammers sometimes provide cheap services for large payment in the belief that this will not be viewed as theft since they provide some minimum kind of value for money].

A further clue to look for – has your parent/s become secretive about showing you their bank books and statements to let you know what they are spending?

The alarming fact is that the criminals actively try to brainwash their victims and often with significant success.

Think Jessica believes that Jessica Scam Syndrome is a recognizable mental health condition.

The criminals “create a delusional world which becomes the vulnerable person’s reality so that victims refuse any intervention”. The vulnerable person is unable to recognize that a scam is going on and indeed chooses to prefer the lies that the criminal tells, to the warnings of their family and friends.

Nobody wants to believe that they have been fooled and this is a very significant reason as to why the criminals can succeed.

Notarization services are of course rooted in the human and commercial need to distinguish between the fraudulent and the genuine. Please do navigate through to our website for more information about the services we can give – or contact us by phone or email, we are very happy to help: at www.atkinsonnotary.com or phone me on 0113 816 0116 (internationally 0044 113 8160116) and email notary@atkinsonnotary.com and louise@atkinsonnotary.com

Links

In March 2014 the National Scams Team estimated £10 Billion a year was being sent to postal scams alone, however Think Jessica believes this is only the tip of the iceberg as in one week the charity can be alerted to silent victims who have collectively lost over much more. (but not reported to the Police since they will not believe they have been tricked.)
http://www.met.police.uk/docs/little_book_scam.pdf

Financial Fraud Action UK (FFA UK) said it had seen a £36m increase over the past year in crimes involving online and phone banking, purchases made online and over the phone, and criminals filling out fraudulent applications.
The body, which works to prevent fraud on behalf of the financial services industry, said at least £7m of this has been put down to vishing, the telephone equivalent of email scam phishing.
http://www.financialfraudaction.org.uk/publications/#/1/

Think Jessica
http://www.thinkjessica.com/

 

New Regulations – Company Names – A Relaxation? Or a Threat?

New Regulations – Company Names – A Relaxation? Or a Threat To Your Business?

At the end of January 2015 new regulations came into force relating to the naming of Companies in England and Wales.

If you have a Limited Company you will view the name of your Company as a very valuable asset of your business. For most businesses, the Company name together perhaps with a logo is the essential brand which is being marketed to your customers.

The name of, for example Marks & Spencers plc is an iconic British name and brand but most people probably do not know that the Company is registered as Marks and Spencer plc nor would even notice the two differences.

What’s in a name? A lot of competitors as well as criminals would like the public to be confused. Enquiry on the internet reveals the registration of two short-lived companies – Sparks and Mencer Limited, and Sparks and Marks Limited. Both now dissolved

It is for this reason that any new clothing and groceries Company wishing to register its name at Companies House as Marks & Spencer plc would be refused – the name is too similar to the existing name. Companies House considers the word “and” to be the same as the symbol “&” for the purpose of name registration. I do note however that the real Company has registered several other names including M & S Limited and even Marks and Sparks Limited

For the same reason other words in Company name registration applications have for many years been disregarded by Companies House.

So if your business were named John Smith Exports Limited then a new competitor would have been unable to register the name John Smith Imports Limited.

Presumably the Company House rationale used to be that in the minds of naive and possibly careless customers a Company dealing with international trade called John Smith is at first glance the same Company whether it is called John Smith Export Limited or John Smith Import Limited.

One effect of the new regulations is that the list of disregarded names has grown shorter.
This means therefore that in the future John Smiths Exports Limited could indeed find a new Company registered John Smiths Imports Limited, no longer in breach of Company House rules.

Of course the existing Trademark and Intellectual Property Law might still protect the Owners of the longer established Company but the new Regulations mean that those Owners would be having to conduct a chase-up operation rather than have the protection of the previous prohibition upon a competitor using a “too similar” name.

Some commentators are suggesting that Companies should give consideration to registering new Company names for themselves – as in the Marks and Spencer example above – in the same way that many Companies have registered alternative internet domain names to preclude opportunist competition.

Perhaps all Company Directors should at least have a look at the Regulatory changes and review the situation with their advisers.

Please do navigate through to our website for more information about the services we can give – or contact me and Louise by phone or email, we are very happy to help: http://www.atkinsonnotary.com or phone me on 0113 816 0116 (internationally 0044 113 8160116) and email notary@atkinsonnotary.com and louise@atkinsonnotary.com