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Monday 28th February 2011

No sooner had February begun than the busy lecturing season started with all of the lecturing team back on the road. In spite of busy diaries we have found the time to prepare more practical support material on the implementation of 'clarified' ISAs, as we promised in last month's newswire. This time the A&A team has tackled 'related parties' and produced a questionnaire that will help you communicate with your clients to obtain important related party information from them. The questionnaire can be sent to clients or used as an aide-memoire for client planning visits. Again, you can use the questionnaire with our compliments - you'll find it under 'Audit and Accountancy Issues' below.

If you have found these summaries useful and have any suggestions on how we could help in other areas, we'd love to hear from you.

And finally, no, your eyes are not deceiving you and nor have we accidentally left part of last month's newswire copy in this months! Also under 'Audit and Accountancy Issues' below you'll find news on further changes to your audit reports as the APB surprised us with an update to their recent bulletin. Hopefully, the APB have no more changes planned and we won't need to repeat ourselves again in March!

Nicola Hurley
Director
nicola.hurley@mercia-group.co.uk

PS As HMRC were under pressure to delay the introduction of iXBRL we did wonder if the summary of the changes to expect we included in last month's newswire was a little premature. If you felt the same so didn't take the time to read it, but now wish you had, archive copies of the newswire are available on our website or you can reply to this newswire to request a copy.

Corporate Tax Conference for tax specialists

This new full day conference will be looking at Company Reorganisations, Corporates and LLPs, Research and Development Credits, Intellectual Property and Transfer Pricing.

The conference will be held at De Vere Holborn Bars, London on 30 March 2011. For further information, please click here.

Advising the Elderly Conference

Advising the elderly client is an increasing area of practice for many firms, and the growth of this sector is likely to continue - partly due to demographic factors, and partly because of the complexity of the laws surrounding this area. This year's conference covers a wide range of practical issues which will enable you to offer the best possible advice and service to your elderly clients including:

The conference will be held at the Hilton Hotel, Castle Donington on 7 April 2011. To view the full programme, please click here.

Audit and Accountancy Issues

Clarified ISAs: Alerting clients - a closer look at related parties

As mentioned above, we have prepared a questionnaire, which provides practical advice on how you can help your SME audit clients to understand their responsibilities for related parties. Click here to download your copy.

Further changes to audit reports!

Following the late December 2010 publication of Bulletin 2010/2, the Auditing Practices Board (APB) has issued a revised version of ISA+ 700, which is effective for periods ending on or after 23 March 2011. Bulletin 2010/2 has also been revised to take account of the change made.

The change amends the short form description of the scope of an audit to refer to the auditor's responsibility under ISA+s to read all the financial and non-financial information in the annual report to identify material inconsistencies with the financial statements. Each of the example reports in the Bulletin has been amended. You can access a copy of the ISA+ and the Bulletin on the APB's website.

Subscribers to our Audit Manual and Christies, Pension Schemes, Clubs and Limited Liability Partnerships (LLP) Specialist Assignment Manuals (SAMs) can expect another update to the example reports in their manuals for March 2011 year ends onwards. News of the updates will appear here on our website.

Updated guidance on pension scheme audits

The APB has published a revision of Practice Note (PN) 15, The Audit of Occupational Pension Schemes in the United Kingdom (Revised). The revision updates the current guidance for 'clarified' ISAs as well as changes in the legislative and regulatory framework. New guidance has been included on:

A copy of the PN can be accessed here.

News for Mercia technical manual subscribers

Earlier this month we issued updates to our Audit Manual and Charities, Pension Schemes and LLP SAMs to take account of the December 2010 edition of APB Bulletin 2010/2. These were followed by an update to our Clubs SAM. If you have any administrative questions about these updates please contact karina@mercia-group.co.uk or call her on 0116 258 1200. As mentioned above, these manuals will be updated again to take account of the February 2011 version of the Bulletin.

Tax Issues

HMRC tax credit crackdown

HMRC have launched a campaign to target suspected fraudulent tax credit claims from the self-employed. It is part of the Government's wider crackdown on benefit fraud. HMRC have been examining tax credit awards being paid to the self-employed and are writing to any whose claims may not be genuine or accurate.

Letters have been sent to 12,000 self-employed who are claiming tax credits, so you may encounter a client who receives one of these in the near future. To read more, please click here. If you need any help in this area, we can offer specialist help. Please contact Mark Morton by email at mark.morton@mercia-group.co.uk

Relevant Motoring Expenditure - Total People Ltd

HMRC are appealing to this case and, until the appeal is decided, HMRCs position remains unchanged. To read a summary of the case, please click here.

To read HMRC's position, please click here.

New penalties for offshore non-compliance

Sch 10 FA 2010 introduced new penalties to tackle offshore tax evasion. These new penalties will come into force from 6 April 2011 and apply to Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax. The first self assessment returns affected will be for the 2011/12 tax year. To read more, please click here.

Changing the way HMRC handles incoming mail for enquiries

HMRC intend to scan incoming post which will be phased in from March 2011. To read more, please click here.

Official rate of interest

The official rate will be frozen at 4% for 2011/12 tax year, subject to review in the event of significant rate changes.

New services provided by Agent Account Managers

HMRC have expanded the services provided by their Agent Account Manager (AAM) team. To register for these services, which include requesting an AAM speaker and the opportunity to provide feedback, please click here.

Office Gossip and Idle Chat!

A new training course for you?

We thought this might raise a laugh amongst you - Our receptionist Sue recently received a phone call from a lady enquiring about "A salon services course she attended last year".

When Sue asked her for more details, she said "It was a Mercia course on manicures and pedicures"! Obviously Sue explained that we were an accountancy training company, we have since investigated further and found there is another Mercia that runs such courses!

The good old days?

If you read our introduction you will already be aware that the ‘silly lecturing season’ is well underway so there has been little opportunity for idle chat. However, Mark Morton reminded us of the good old days when 'one actively engaged in civilised correspondence with the local tax office'. You may have read them before but here are a few extracts from purportedly genuine letters to HMRC, first published in the Daily Mail, which illustrate just how entertaining an occupation this could be: