This post was scheduled to go out today. I just had to fill in the numbers. Ironic isn't it that when I originally penned this, I was planning to move on. The outtage simply accelerated the decision.
On 17th October, I said
"One month and 136 posts later, AccMan has had 1,722 visits with 3,805 page views."
As of close of play today, we've had 6,270 visits with 13,350 page views. And I've now penned some 297 articles, receiving 84 comments. Thank you all. It's shaping what I do.
I'm particularly proud of the fact we got our largest audience ever on 15th October when I ran the analysis of the Arctic Systems case. Even more satisfying was the fact that on a Google search, AccMan comes out top and also appears at no.6 - Citrus also appears twice at no's 2 and 10. Tax Blagger gets a look in at number 3. So the top three slots all go to folk who use blog technology. The so-called trusted sources appear nowhere. Not in the top 10 where it matters.
The audience is made up as to: 68.7% UK, 15.8% US with the remainder scattered around the world in a couple of dozen countries. So now when people want to know about tax, technology and marketing in the UK - we're a credible presence.
Significantly, I've completed 5 podcasts and plan to expand that part of the biz significantly over the coming months. In the New Year, I will be launching the 15 Minute Round Up with some interesting collaborations to announce.
I now have commercial deals that have arisen directly from these activities. All of the projects are interesting and as soon as I can say more, I surely will. These deals are providing a significant boost to income and are personally satisfying in ways that traditional media could never be.
Equally exiting - at least to me - I shall also be moving the site, updating it and putting it on a fresh platform. Sadly I've grown out of TypePad and need to move on. So that's the first truly sunk cost $149.50. Not bad eh? thanks TypePad people for what you've done for me. But for the moment at least it's 'syonara' (as painted on one of Larry Ellison's boats.) or will it be 'see you later?
Some readers know yesterday was Black Friday. I was really looking forward to it as it had been a cracking couple of days. Then disaster struck. Six Apart the developers and hosting provider for TypePad, the platform on which this site sits had a major outtage that lasted 18 hours.
This is not the place to argue the ins and outs, rights and wrongs. I know they were working hard to resolve it and I know execs were over-run with calls, email etc. Irrelevant in my eyes. This was the second outtage in several weeks. This time it wasn't a scalability issue but what to me sounds like basic housekeeping gone badly wrong.
This is a sure sign of an immature business that has ignored or not understood the issues of scaling up Internet service based applications. Fortunately, switching costs are minimal though time consuming. So by the time you see the nextr post, I hope to have transferred services. In the meantime, you'll need to have a quick look through the Recent Posts in the sidebar because it looks like 6A hosed the email subscriptions reader as well somewhere along the way. Great.
I'm talking to the feed people about this to see what can be done.
I'm glad I didn't advise anyone to use this platform except to play behind the firewall. Pity I didn't take my own advice!
Over in the US, TaxableTalk provides an entertaining and heartwarming story about a taxpayer who was at our equivalent of a GC hearing. The judgment starts:
"Tax records are the ancient Egyptians of the modern age--plagued not by boils, frogs, flies, and lice but by fire, flood, mold, and theft. The cursed tax records in this case belonged to Raleigh Cox, who owned a business that fixed used cars and then resold them.
When audited, Cox failed to produce the records that would have supported many of his claimed business deductions, and blamed their absence on a thieving former employee. The parties have since settled most of these issues, but the Commissioner hardened his heart against Cox’s deductions for cash purchases of used cars.
We must decide whether to let them go."
You just know where this is going.
The original judgment is here. Could you usefully use this in your disputed GC cases? I doubt our Inspectors are any less hard hearted but this is a great victory for common sense with an appropriate amount of erudition thrown in. Don't you agree?
I was listening to a story about how the San Francisco Chronicle is losing out on subscriptions to the online world despite having a Pulitzer Prize winner on its books and a truly great editorial team. It is looking at podcasting as an alternative or additional income stream. The idea is to add colour to existing stories. Fantastic idea.
Can you imagine the impact it would have had on you if Nichola Ross Martin had recorded the conversation she had with the Jones' following the Arctic Systems decision and had been able to upload that to the Internet for everyone's benefit? Her quip:
On leaving court, I said to Geoff and Diana that I sincerely hoped that
I would never have to see them again! That is in the hands of HMRC, and
their decision to appeal to the Lords."
was classic. Would you not want to hear those words at this historic time? How much more value would that have added to your appreciation of the case? To what extent would it have demonstrated that high powered tax advisors are human too? How much additional business could Nichola have pulled in from that simple, spoken comment? We will never know.
Which is why I will be recording a very important customer case study - very soon. This case will talk about the implementation of a SaaS solution at a firm of CAs. It will not be your 'canned brochureware over voice' but a real conversation with a real user who is trying to make real money from this decision.
The firm is taking a risk and I'd like to know about how that coloured its decision. This is called referencability and is one of the things you do as a matter of course when selecting software. With a recording you can save it for now or another day.
You don't have to do a part of the work almost always required in discovering alternative software. You've already got the customer story. That usually comes part way through the sales cycle. Now you can have it in advance. That's very different. If needs be you can follow it up yourself. You're already saving money in the procurement because you're not wasting time with a vendor with which you don't have a good fit or feel. And it's free, as a service to you.
This changes the software procurement game - forever.
Both AccountingWEB and ContractorUK have the scoop on the Appeal Court's decision in favour of the Jones' in the Arctic Systems case. For those that want to analyse the case the official judgment is available at the Court of Appeal Decisions website.
As some commentators have already noted, Gordon Brown is not the best loser. Neither is HMRC. So while the case is won for the time being, don't expect government to take this on the chin without considering what it means for the future of OMBs, contractors or tax payers generally. At present, it's looking like a PR disaster.
For me, the key points are where the Chancellor says:
"In the absence of any service agreement between the
Company and Mr Jones I am unable to accept that the payment of modest
salaries to Mr Jones was any part of the arrangement. Similarly the
declaration of the dividends was not arranged in advance; it was
dependent on the trading fortunes of the Company. Further, as counsel
for Mr Jones submitted, and, as I accept, the fact that the structure
being set up might lend itself in the future to some tax mitigation is
irrelevant to the existence of an element of bounty"
Keene LJ takes a wholly pragmatic standpoint:
"What happened in practice was therefore dependent on
subsequent decisions made by the appellant as the sole director. It is
difficult to regard such a Protean state of affairs as capable of being
part of an arrangement in the sense used in the legislation.
Furthermore, for the same reasons the element of bounty also was too
speculative when viewed as at the date of the alleged settlement."
Carnwath LJ raises the point of general principle that:
"The lack of a clearly ascertainable legislative
purpose underlines the need for caution in extending the concept of
settlement beyond the scope of existing jurisprudence. The Revenue's
position in this case seems to me a significant extension. For the
first time, they seek to apply the concept to what has been found to be
a normal commercial transaction between two adults, to which each is
making a substantial commercial contribution, albeit not of the same
economic value. Such a difference, by itself, is not enough to my mind
to take the arrangement into the realm of "bounty", as it has been
understood in the existing cases. If the legislature wishes such an
arrangement to be brought within a special regime for tax purposes,
clearer language is necessary to achieve it."
At this juncture common sense has prevailed. And in my experience, that makes for the most effective law. But substantive points remain:
Why is government rushing through legislation and then seeking to clarifying it in the courts or through other appeal processes? IR35 may have caused many scares but it has proven to be largely without teeth.
How will HMRC respond? In the summer, it was cock-ahoop at winning a bunch of landmark cases. It now ends the year having lost both M&S and Arctic Systems. they must be bruised, and a bruised animal is a dangerous beast.
My sense is that HMRC and Government need to sit down and figure out where they go to next with a tax system that is clearly creaking under Government's need to hike the overall tax take but which is politically constrained by top line Income, Corporation Tax and VAT rates.
In the meantime, Happy Christmas Mr & Mrs Jones - you stood up and were prepared to risk everything to prove an important point of law potentially affecting millions of ordinary people. That takes guts, spirit, passion and determination. Few would have been prepared to do that. It makes you heroes.
I received a rough translation of a case study from my friends at D2C the UK arm of Twinfield. Part of it says the decison maker listened to a spot on a radio station about the company and decided to look at it. Whassat???
At the time, the competition was Oracle???!!! As a hosted service. Can you believe that? Hey did Oracle forget about NetSuite?
When the case comes out, it will blow you away. It's really good.
So putting that into today's speak - a podcast case study could be a great idea.
Looking at the Wilkins-Kennedy site, it suddenly struck me what a great opportunity they could be missing. They have a Spanish section on their main website. Why not try a blog communications site aimed at the ex-pat communities on the Costa Blanca, Costa del Sol and so on.
There are 10s of thousands of ex-pats here. Many are high wealth. But guess
what? 53% return within the first year. Think about the tax consequences of
that? What could you usefully talk about? What about offshore investments? What
about asset liquidation? What about Spanish witholding tax on property
disposals? What about the reality of walking around with large brown paper bags
with the proceeds you're not declaring to Hacienda on a property sale? There
really is a big market out here for someone from the UK with imagination.
Anyone that can unravel the goings on at Hacienda has got to be onto a winner.
And while you're at it, think about the pleasure you'd derive from deducting flight and hotel costs to Alicante or Valencia airports from your profit calculations. Oh yes - I'm getting a Costa Ripoff site going soon...could be a good companion. Any offers? I can big it up in the Costa Blanca rags.
In this new way of thinking, there's a lot of discussion around the future and reliability of media. This is very much a US view of the world but it has resonance to millions of people around the world. I'm also something of a cynical ex-pat UK hack. I've never worked in an editorial office - too chaotic for my taste. But I've seen the rise and fall of technology mags - it was once 100% of what I do - today it's 5% - assuming I bother getting paid for the bits I write.
I've seen how the value of information and accumulated knowledge can never be taken away from the individual. So even though my print megaphones no longer exist - I used to do regular reviews of accounting products for Information Week, PC Week and comment on accounting vendors at AccountancyAge - I have the accumulated knowledge to comment about what Sage says or does, but with the benefit of history. I have, in other words, a story to tell. And everyone loves a story. So when I came across this bit of thinking at Forbes, I was truly gobsmacked:
"Journalists at MSM organizations also live in a zero-sum world.
There can be only one evening TV anchor, one top editor at a newspaper
or magazine, a fixed number of columnists on the op-ed page . . . and
thus the MSM puts out alarming stories about GM job cuts, trade and
fiscal deficits, global warming, oil going to $100 a barrel and so on.
Why does the MSM love environmentalists? Both share a zero-sum view of
Meanwhile, the most energetic, original and positive writing has
been migrating to the Web and to blogs. No surprise here. Anybody who
creates a blog is: (a) an entrepreneur and thus probably NOT a zero-sum
thinker; (b) a producer first and a consumer second. These two
attributes alone guarantee that the blogger probably has a more
accurate view of the world, and how it really works, than does the
zero-sum thinker toiling away at his MSM position."
Do I have an accurate view of the world? Do I accurately reflect some the issues you're facing? Can you do better? If so then go at it. My job may be done already.
Is it possible to morph from one way of operating to another? Is it possible to switch value systems? I think it most certainly is. I know it brings value to me and those with whom I speak. And I'm not charging a penny for this.
Gapingvoid Outrageous blog pimp/whore Hugh McLeod's anarchic look at the world of advertising and 'Cluetrain/Hughtrain' thinking. He's a change agent but you need to read his stuff with the door closed!
Extreme Accounting CODA's PR department went bonkers when they created this. Since which it has taken on a life of its own.