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A Festive Farrago

19 December 2001
Issue: 3838 / Categories:

Taxation presents a compendium of tax and other trivia as a seasonal gift to readers.

A legal 'boob'

A judge who awarded £2 in damages to Eddie Coppard, who sued Customs and Excise over value added tax, did not have authority to hear the case, was admitted by the Lord Chancellor's department. Judge Richard Seymour, a circuit judge, was not authorised to sit in the Queen's Bench Division as a High Court judge.

Taxation presents a compendium of tax and other trivia as a seasonal gift to readers.

A legal 'boob'

A judge who awarded £2 in damages to Eddie Coppard, who sued Customs and Excise over value added tax, did not have authority to hear the case, was admitted by the Lord Chancellor's department. Judge Richard Seymour, a circuit judge, was not authorised to sit in the Queen's Bench Division as a High Court judge.

The original case was reported in the All English Reporter, and covered in Case News in Tax Journal. Unfortunately, it was not included in Simon's Tax Cases.

Perhaps a follow-up report might have said 'Richard Seymour, a gym instructor at a central London health club, was surprised to be called in January 2001 to sit as a High Court judge. The Lord Chancellor's Department would not comment on whether this heralded a more muscular approach to justice, but admitted that its list of circuit judges is in urgent need of review'.

Quotable quotes

  • Inflation is taxation without legislation - Milton Friedman.
  • We have long had death and taxes as the two standards of inevitability. But there are those who believe that death is the preferable of the two. - Erwin N Griswold.
  • Like mothers, taxes are often misunderstood, but seldom forgotten. - Lord Bramwell.
  • The IRS may take some solace from the fact that Matthew was a tax collector before he became a saint. - Donald C Alexander.
  • The taxpayer - that's someone who works for the federal government but doesn't have to take a civil service examination. - Ronald Reagan.
  • Taxation and representation are inseparably united. God hath joined them; no British Parliament can put them asunder. - Lord Camden.
  • Thanks a lot for tax reform. I am spending about 5 hours now working on my taxes and paying my accountant twice as much. - Letter from a taxpayer.
  • In the matter of taxation, every privilege is an injustice. - Voltaire.
  • The avoidance of taxes is the only intellectual pursuit that still carries any reward. - Keynes.
  • The Rosetta Stone whose text in hieroglyphics, demotics and Greek was the key to revealing the stories of ancient Egypt, was in fact a grant of tax immunity. - Alvin Rabushka.
  • A perfect revenue law, if improperly administered will soon become a practical monstrosity. - Aubrey R Marrs.
  • Next to being shot at and missed, nothing is quite as satisfying as an income tax refund. - E J Raymond.
  • Nuclear physics is much easier than tax law. It is rational and always works the same way. - Jerold Rochwald.
  • In levying taxes and in shearing sheep, it is well to stop when you get down to the skin. - Austin O'Malley.
  • A dog who thinks he is man's best friend is a dog who obviously has never met a tax lawyer. - Fran Lebowitz.
  • I like to pay taxes. With them I buy civilisation. - Oliver Wendell Holmes.
  • Income tax returns are the most imaginative fiction being written today. - Herman Wouk.
  • It's a game. We (tax lawyers) teach the rich how to play it so they can stay rich - and the IRS keep changing the rules so we can keep getting rich teaching them. - John Grisham.
  • There is only one kind of tax that would please everybody - one that nobody but the other guy has to pay. - Earl Wilson.
  • There is nothing more permanent than a temporary tax. - Anon.

Reproduced from the Sri Lanka Tax Review, June 2001, by permission.

An International perspective

Tax accountant shoots policeman

Claiming he turned to bank robbery as a result of problems with the IRS, a Chicago tax accountant with a history of violence took a police detective hostage and both men ended up in the hospital suffering from gunshot wounds.

The accountant, 41 year old Daniel Salley, was suspected of robbing two banks. An undercover policeman, Joseph Airhart, cornered Mr Salley in a Chicago apartment building, and a related exchange of gunfire left both men severely wounded.

Detective Airhart was held as a hostage for two hours before Mr Salley eventually surrendered. Both men were hospitalised and are recovering.

Mr Salley is the father of six children and had reportedly been struggling to support his family. He owns a tax practice in Chicago and had been wanted for his alleged connection with a $239,000 robbery from a Charter One bank located inside a Dominick's grocery store. Mr Salley was on probation, having pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and domestic battery last year for beating one of his children with an extension cord.

From Accountingweb, 4 September 2001.

French taxman tells all

French tax authorities have sent around 400,000 assessments not to the taxpayers but to their neighbours. The financial details sent out can include details of divorces and other such personal matters, so some people are talking of suing the authorities for the embarrassment caused.

China executes tax fraudsters

China sentenced seven people to death for their parts in a tax fraud that may rank as the country's biggest corruption scandal since the Communist era began in 1949.

The seven, including two tax officials and a former prosecutor in the southern province of Guangdong, were found guilty of using fake tax receipts from shell companies with no staff or premises to claim Rmb58m (£4.8 million) in export tax rebates.

From the Financial Times, 3 March 2001.

Tax dodger walks to freedom

One of Britain's most wanted tax dodgers escaped capture by hiking over the Alps.

Accountant, Ian Leaf, 47, who is said to owe the Inland Revenue a staggering £70 million, thought his luck had run out in September 2000. He had left his safe Swiss hideaway and was arrested in Rome, where he spent nine months in jail awaiting extradition to the United Kingdom.

For the previous fifteen years Mr Leaf had lived in Switzerland which has no extradition treaty with Britain. He had moved there from his home in Denham, Buckinghamshire, in the 1980s to mastermind a vast suspected tax dodge. It involved buying cut-price companies that owed millions of pounds in tax and then selling them off at a profit without paying the inherited tax debt, allegedly (according to the Revenue) evading the bill by using false documents and bogus accounting.

In September 2000, Mr Leaf and his wife flew to Italy in a private jet from one of their luxury Swiss homes, not realising that his passport was out of date by five days. Italian officials looked at it and discovered that Mr Leaf was on Interpol's 'red list' for alleged tax fraud.

He was then arrested at the request of the Inland Revenue and spent nine months behind bars before his lawyer negotiated bail in May 2001. However, on 28 June 2001, two weeks before an Italian judge would rule regarding extradition to England, Mr Leaf vanished. He took a train to Milan, hitched a lift to the foothills of the Alps with, ironically, an off duty Italian tax Inspector, and then hired a guide and walked across the mountains to Switzerland.

Reported in the Mail on Sunday, 12 August 2001.

Accountancy advice and lipstick

The Canadian arm of the Avon Cosmetics company is set to launch a service named My Advantage in 2002 in which customers will be referred to approved accountancy firms for advice, as well as being offered the usual beauty products. However, there appears to be little indication that accountants will soon be advising on make-up.

In Britain, a spokesman said that the United Kingdom Avon finance department was 'aware' of the Canadian innovation. However, it appears that British Avon ladies are unlikely to be expanding their skills base yet.

As reported in Accountancy Age.

Check your CV

An amazing number of people do not check their CV before it is submitted, resulting in some of the real life scenarios illustrated below:

Most embarrassing typing errors:

'My main hobby is marital arts.'

'I have experience of working for a big sex firm.'

Most naïve comments

'I have a criminal record... but I am not in jail at the moment.'

'I am someone who knows my own destiny... but I have no definite long-term plans.'

Most gruesome hobby

'Shooting my family.' (This was later clarified in the context of an interest in photography.)

Memorable church notices

  • 'Miss Charlene Mason sang "I will not pass this way again" giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.'
  • 'Ladies, don't forget the rummage sale. It's a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Don't forget your husbands.'
  • 'The peacemaking meeting scheduled for today has been cancelled due to a conflict.'
  • 'The sermon this morning: "Jesus Walks on Water". The sermon tonight: "Searching for Jesus".'
  • 'Next Thursday there will be tryouts for the choir. They need all the help they can get.'
  • 'The Rector will preach his farewell message after which the choir will sing "Break Forth into Joy".'
  • 'Don't let worry kill you off - let the Church help.'
  • 'At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be "What is Hell?". Come early and listen to our choir practice.'
  • 'The senior choir invites any member of the congregation who enjoys sinning to join the choir.'
  • 'The scouts are saving aluminium cans, bottles and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.'
  • 'For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs.'
  • 'Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person(s) you want remembered.'
  • 'The church will host an evening of fine dining, superb entertainment, and gracious hostility.'
  • 'Potluck supper, Sunday at 5.00 p.m. Prayer and medication to follow.'
  • 'The ladies of the church have cast off clothing of every kind. They may be seen in the basement on Friday afternoon.'
  • 'This evening at 7 p.m. there will be a hymn sing in the park across from the Church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.'
  • 'The pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday morning.'
  • 'Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 p.m. Please use the back door.'
  • 'The eighth-graders will be presenting Shakespeare's Hamlet in the Church basement Friday at 7 p.m. The congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.'
  • 'The Associate Minister unveiled the church's new tithing campaign slogan last Sunday "I Upped my Pledge - Up Yours".'

The things children say

  • The Royal Mint is what the Queen puts on the roast lamb.
  • A surgery is a place where people insult their doctors.
  • Henry VIII thought so much of Wolsey that he made him a cardigan.
  • An inhibition is like an exhibition, only indoors.
  • It is sometimes difficult to hear what is being said in church because the agnostics are so terrible.
  • The farmer's daughter was fat and had piglets in her hair.
  • Latitude and longitude are very useful. Suppose a man is drowning. He has only to shout out what latitude and longitude he is in and then we can find him.
  • A grass widow is the wife of a dead vegetarian.
  • A class of seven year olds were asked to draw a picture illustrating The Flight to Egypt. A little boy drew a large jet airliner with three people looking out of the windows. Asked who they were, he replied: 'That's Joseph, that's Mary with the baby, and that's Pontius... the pilot.'
  • Abraham Lincoln was born in a log cabin that he built with his own hands.
  • Tarzan is a short name for the American flag. Its full name is Tarzan Stripes.
  • The French National Anthem is The Mayonnaise.
  • In Paris, you can see the Leaning Tower of Pizza.
  • Surely good Mrs Murphy will follow me all the days of my life...

First published in Saga magazine, September 2001.

GCSE answers

The following questions and answers were collated from the 2000 British GCSE exams.


Q: What guarantees may a mortgage company insist on?

A: If you are buying a house, they will insist you are well endowed.

Q: What are steroids?

A: Things for keeping carpets still on the stairs.


Q: What is artificial insemination?

A: When the farmer does it to the bull instead of the cow.

Q: How can you delay milk turning sour?

A: Keep it in the cow.

Q: What is the fibula?

A: A small lie.

Q: What does 'varicose' mean?

A: Nearby.

Q: What is the most common form of birth control?

A: Most people prevent contraception by wearing a condominium.

Q: Give the meaning of the term 'caesarean section'.

A: The caesarean section is a district in Rome.

Q: What is a seizure?

A: A Roman emperor.

Q: What is a terminal illness?

A: When you are sick at the airport.


Q: Use the word 'judicious' in a sentence to show you understand its meaning.

A: Hands that judicious can be soft as your face.

Q: What does the word 'benign' mean?

A: Benign is what you will be after you be eight.

Issue: 3838 / Categories:
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