Is tax the new football?

High profile tax news stories have recently been in the headlines and are gaining popular interest like never before.

Those of us who specialise in tax have suddenly found ourselves in the midst of a popular frenzy. Not so long ago, announcing to the man or woman in the street or at a party that you worked in tax would be tantamount to suggesting that your main love in life was the enjoyment of tedium. Suddenly though, tax has become the new football or perhaps more pertinently, politics.

In the past, nobody realised that tax existed unless they had to pay it, but in the last couple of months, a torrent of exciting tax stories has regularly hit the headlines. High profile news stories about tax regularly feature on the main hourly news during Radio Four's ‘Today’ programme and ‘World at One’.

Some of the most recent high profile stories include;

  • The reputedly and reportedly pernicious withdrawal of tax relief from donations to charity by the wealthy
  • George Osborne's Granny tax - the entirely coincidental slow removal of enhanced personal allowances from the elderly
  • The reduction of the highest rate of tax from 50% to 45%
  • The desire of Cabinet Ministers and mayoral candidates to have their tax returns published (but not those of their families)
  • An unwarranted indictment of a well-known football manager for failure to pay taxes that the courts established were never due
  • A popular football club’s descent into administration, partly resulting from its inability to settle employment tax liabilities
  • A requirement for partners and spouses to share tax return information as part of the mechanism for claiming tax credits
  • And last and most certainly least, the good old pasty tax.

Tax related stories have become so popular that you are just as likely to end up discussing these issues with your friends down the pub as you are at the next dinner party you’re invited to.

In this climate, us accountants should be proud of working in a profession that is not only exciting and rewarding but now also extremely high profile. It can only be a matter of time before John Whiting and Francesca Lagerberg have their own early morning TV shows exclusively devoted to informing the country about what is fast becoming its favourite subject.

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