* Posts by accountant

9 posts • joined 9 Nov 2009

Eric Schmidt defends Google's teeny UK tax payouts - again


Re: Crap argument

"The system should be simple: Gross income - legitimate expenses = profit, on which the company pays tax. The problem is the Government tie themselves in knots to come up with ways to make sure their chums can use all sorts of dodgy tricks to class everything as 'legit' expenses."

If only it were that simple.

The most common avoidance tactic is to re-locate the taxable basis of a transaction and thus shift its jurisdiction. Governments make this so easy by screwing up the basics.

So, take a German national buying software on his American employer's credit card over the internet from a vendor who is a corporation incorporated in Japan. Who is entitled to tax what part of the transaction?

Under EU VAT law, the correct answer is "don't yet know".

If both Japanese and American companies are registered for VAT in the EU, then the employee should pay zero VAT because the American company should apply the "reverse charge" mechanism (it's a cross-border business-to-business supply, so therefore zero-rated). If the employee subsequently travels outside the EU - for whatever reason - and then starts to use the downloaded software, the transaction falls outside the scope of EU VAT: it doesn't even need accounting for under VAT rules. If neither company is registered for EU VAT, then the transaction is outside the scope of EU VAT.

But, if the vendor's intermediary is either Apple or Google Checkout, then both vendors will use the IP address of the employee's browser to conclude wrongly that the sale is a German sale, and thus wrongly slap on 19% VAT. For different reasons, both intermediaries assume (or cause vendors to assume) that all sales are - and can only be - business-to-consumer sales. If the intermediary is eSellerate, then there is a very good chance of the correct VAT rate being applied, but only if one or both corporations are registered for EU VAT. Oops.

The same issues arise with corporation tax (tax on corporate profits and capital gains). Germany will definitely make a big song-and-dance about, "The transaction happened on German soil, you must pay corporate income tax on your worldwide and inter-galactic income!!!" The American government will say exactly the same thing to both corporations (except for California, who will argue that the American government can wait its turn). The Japanese government has the advantage of being the same jurisdiction as the vendor's seat of incorporation, and probably has the strongest claim to income tax revenue.

And this is why "transfer pricing" rules are both so complex, and yet so missing-the-point.

Simple. Now there's a thought.


Re: The tax laws are open to all...

Lobbying works only when the politicians are ready to be bribed. Or threatened. Or blackmailed.

No-body has yet figured out a way of qualifying a digital transaction into a tax jurisdiction. The EU has attempted to do so with VAT for cross-border supply of services, and it's a dog's breakfast.

Charge of the Metro brigade: Did Microsoft execs plan to take a hit?


Re: Metro

"I strongly recommend you give technical support a try

No thanks, I have actual skills."

The expected arrogance of a developer. Anything to run away from the end-user, a refusal to face up to the shit that the developer throws right into the face of the user!

A developer is worth nothing until they have tested every aspect of their creations on a single-monitored desktop without a mouse. That's what Michelle in Accounts uses, and that's all she cares about.

Microsoft copies Google with silent browser updates


Google Chrome wins

Chrome works with Google Apps for Business.

IE9 on Win7x64+antivirus takes more than 10 seconds to launch; on the same machine, Chrome is instant (<1 sec).

Enough said.

Nokia exec: Young fashonistas 'fed up' with iPhone


Android is the least worst option

For a company running Google Apps for Business, Android is the only workable mobile comms tools.

Blackberry Enterprise Solution is by far the most excellent email tool, because of the outstanding encryption and compression that means a really low data tariff, even when roaming.

But BES has no means of delegating internet access control to the network or handset, so all internet traffic goes through BES and thus screws up websites. Corporate sites will be HTTPS, so guess what BES does? Yep: blocks it. HTTPS = dangerous, apparently. The admins need to approve their own websites in BES.... crazy.

iPhones are a menace. They are a real security threat, because you can activate an iPhone on your Business Gmail account without ever declaring that you have done so. So your company cannot see where its data is being stored. Therefore, the company cannot protect the data if you or your handset go AWOL. Yet the company remains responsible for the data. Regulators need to make money themselves nowadays, they won't hesitate to prosecute a company that chose to use a system that it could not configure to prevent employees doing what the system was designed to do... Strangely, Apple seems quite happy to sue anybody to "protect" its intellectual property, yet to hell with the people who pay its customers, or its own public profile... To me, that makes them untrustworthy in any business relationship.

Nokia is no-where to be seen in this market. The only space that's left is to comply with enterprise security policies (preferably ones that exist, we're not installing yet another enterprise solution for yet another poxy handheld device).

Windows Mobile? Forget it: we have enough problems on Windows Desktops, and mobile devices bring their own problems that keep people locked into non-jobs for days at a time. Windows Mobile just sounds like an excuse to convert a non-job into a non-career.

Meanwhile, the telcos have many smokes and mirrors to blame their own shoddy network failings on other parties' devices.

So much for the Information Age. We're going backwards!

Lords: Analogue radio must die


Irrational decision making. Again.

OK, so DAB hasn't worked as well as expected, the great DAB experiment on the apathetic British public has turned into a damp squib, the quality of the DAB outcome is miserable for many.

So the rational thing to do is to do nothing until there is a better alternative to FM. In the meantime, everybody who has sunk money into the venture can write it off as sunk and cut their losses.

But the Lords - like the traditional British parliamentary institution - takes a mistake and compounds it by coercive irrationality. Why? Because they have this irrational, emotional stupidity about wasting speculative spending on sunk costs. What about "speculation" do they not understand?

"It doesn't work, so... let's make it mandatory!"

I'm more than happy with the limited number of stations available on analogue FM. It means less space for garbage. Look at the overall result of digital television. Even the documentary channels are garbagised-down to the menality of fickle teenagers, yet these channels cost the punter a fortune (and they don't even provide free sea-sick pills to help the viewer cope with obtuse camera angles and erratic zoom-in-zoom-out-wow-cool-trendy-patronising-you-love-it-really-innit?). Worst, these channels are frequently bundled in with billions of channels of utter crap, made by chavs for chavs, because apparently that's what the customer wants.

Digital television is the template for digital radio. Garbage sold by cartels at a premium. No thanks.

Young people are lazy, think world owes them a living - prof


The study is flawed

(no shit!)

For the study to be meaningful, the comparative data needs to follow the same subjects in at least three different decades of their lives over the three generations. That means it would need to be a rolling study over ~150 years with a consistent (and neutral) succession plan by the social science team studying it.

How to determine the cut-off points between the generations also needs empirical support, otherwise it's just random.

The study does not do this. Instead, it has taken, shall we say, 'generally accepted generations' and measured data from 1976. It ends up proving something which is already commonly accepted, that younger people are generally more idealistic (and therefore unrealistic) than their elders.

Sure, it helps to have such conclusion formalised in such study, but to use that evidence to describe a randomly defined generation is simply irrational.

OpenOffice is the new David Hasselhoff


Office 2000 is supreme

I use Office 2000 and will fight to the death to keep Office 2007 away from my laptop.

I'm an accountant. I therefore use the keyboard far more than the mouse. I link spreadsheets. I use pivot tables, and link to them. About the only feature of Excel 2000 that I don't regularly use is the scenario and goal seek (no need in the business).

I tested OpenOffice's Calc last year for my own accounts at home. At the time, I had data and a pivot table to bring the numbers together. OO crashed and burned, because it's pivot tables ("data pilots") just don't work. Formatted convincingly, but utterly static.

The worse aspect about OO's Calc was the inability to construct spreadsheet links. This is really, really basic stuff. Kindergarten crapola in the world of spreadsheets.

In Excel 2000, linking spreadsheets is about four or five keystrokes (5 seconds) (or about ten mouse clicks over 20 seconds). In Calc, it was a mouse-only interface, used a non-modal dialogue box that would break the Disability Discrimination Act, and resulted in an objective URL. \\computer\c\folder1\folder2\folder3\folder4\filename.odf#sheet1!a1:z26 .... Excel does this only when the linked file is unopened. So while both files are opened and being linked, OO Calc makes a simple requirement utterly unworkable.

Microsoft has at least got the message that if it wants to sell software, it has to react quickly to its customers. By and large, this seems to be what happens. Microsoft appears also to have learnt that supplying a new function can generate the most extraordinary demand, and then the bastard customers get picky when it isn't perfect!

I sense that OpenOffice takes quite a different view. Somehow, it might be user's fault for wanting functionality that Excel can do slickly.

I just wish Access 2000 was as easy to use as Excel 2000.

I also just wish that Excel 2007 was entirely keyboard-enabled. But Office 2007 is to Office 2000 what Vista was to XP. Excel 2007 contains more "functionality", but the morons have buried it underneath another layer of dialgoue boxes and toolbars. Keyboard access to new dialogue boxes again doesn't really comply with the DDA, so are useable only by mouse users. The overall look and feel of Office 2007 is more "spin and marketing" than "business productivity". It is harder for power users to use (mistake) and the removal of word-menus for indescribable icos makes remote support nigh impossible (double-mistake).

Most business processes (especially in accountancy) are repetitive. Macros cannot replicate this real-world repetition because it requires fuzzy logic to process. So any user interface designed to be "flash" rather than "productive" is going to piss people off. It slows down thruput, increases the risk of error, increases the steps required in additional manual manipulation of data.... productivity software? More like sabotage software!!

Sadly, there is no-body else in the market for Excel. Microsoft has a complete monopoly because the product has been bloody brilliant (and remains good, even after the 2007 make-under).

OO Calc might well have changed, but I doubt that they have remedied the faults in the software. More likely, they have aped Microsoft's latest prettification projects. I would need to be convinced before re-considering a trial of OO.

But OO is academic anyway. Where Microsoft plays its trump card is Outlook (the full-fat version). OO has no equivalent. Connected to Exchange, this is perhaps the best user-front end program ever, in just about all versions. 2000 is the best because of its complete keyboard access (you never need to use the mouse once) and, more importantly in an enterprise, it's permanent access to the Global Address Book when connected (Office 2003+ caches it once a day, so users have to put up with duff data, or magically know by clairvoyance when to re-download the entire address book).

So here was a view from real-life business, not an IT person, but the sucker that you IT people call a "customer" (sometimes).

Mozilla plots Firefox interface overhaul


Same old mistakes, with far-reaching consequences

Mozilla's proposals are a depressing re-iteration of the same mistakes as MS IE8 and MS Office 2007.

Corporate users need keyboard accessibility, because keyboard users are much quicker users than mouse users. This is partly because modern applications require way too many clicks to perform simple tasks, but also because the time required to move the mouse and click it is typically more than four times the time it takes to type ALT+A+B (in my experience). It has a direct bearing on administrative productivity.

Some jurisdictions have also legislated anti-discrimination, of which disability discrimination is a key risk for proponents of scrapping the menu. Not all human beings are physically capable of using a mouse for extended periods of time (or at all, in some cases). So a lack of keyboard shortcuts is a lawsuit waiting to happen. If you take away the menu bar, then you take away the primary keyboard access route.

You also make support a lot more tedious. Graphical ribbons seem to be the current trendy alternative to meaningful menus. Using plain English/German/French/Dutch/etc to navigate the user to a command is a damn sight easier than trying to describe incoherent little pictures to a colour-blind user.

But, of course, the developers don't care about user acceptability. They believe that the user will get used to it, and the fuss will be over.

They'll be right, of course. But only in the short-term. As computing power increases, developers seem hell bent on sabotaging any possibility of productivity gains by bundling in excess complexity and far too many clicks/buttons to get to the simple functions. Never mind the spam that flows into your inbox, what about the spam that MS smashes into your fat face whenever you try to load a spreadsheet in MS Excel 2007 that originated from an earlier version?

I suspect that, within my lifetime, we shall discover that non-computer systems are going to be more productive than computer-based systems. If it takes as long to process the same number of transactions compared to the paper-based way, then our investment in technology will be wasted.

And it all starts, at the micro-level, with crap UI design that replaces keyboard-accesible words with keyboard inaccessible pictograms and incoherent, keyboard-unnavigable dialogue boxes.


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