How we work with our clients
When you choose an accountant it is not just technical knowledge and reasonable fees you are looking for. You are also looking for flexibility, credibility, attention to detail and above all someone you can trust and delegate your financial affairs to with complete confidence.
We aim to build a personal relationship with all our clients and work with them on a long-term basis. We maintain regular contact with them to discuss both ongoing issues and recent developments, even after a particular assignment may be over. In an ever-changing business world, it is vital to be on top of events and react quickly to new situations, and we like our clients to feel they are ahead of the game.
Much of our work is done on our own premises and most communication with our clients is by telephone and e-mail. Yet we also feel it is important to see our clients personally from time to time, not just to collect files or hold meetings but also to keep in touch on a more personal level. From experience, we know that it is only by maintaining close contact like this that we can be sure we understand all our clients needs and tailor our services accordingly. It is amazing how often those small frustrations that occur in any business relationship can be resolved over lunch or a drink after work.
Our approach to tax planning
Tax Avoidance or Tax Evasion? An age old conundrum this. The difference was well understood once but seems to have become somewhat blurred in recent years if you listen to pronouncements from some political quarters.
Tax evasion is a crime. It is the deliberate concealment of taxable income or the deliberate over-statement of allowable expenses in order to reduce your tax liability. We at Acumen never condone tax evasion in any way. There are plenty of ways to reduce your tax bill quite legally without resorting to evasion.
Tax avoidance is the active management of your financial affairs with a view towards minimising your tax liability by working within the rules. This is perfectly legal and is what Acumen Tax Solutions specialise in. Our philosophy can be summed up by the extract below from a famous quote by the Honourable Learned Hand, US Appeals Court Judge, in the case of Helvering v. Gregory (1934).
Any one may so arrange his affairs that his taxes shall be as low as possible; he is not bound to choose that pattern which will best pay the Treasury. There is not even a patriotic duty to increase one's taxes. Nobody owes any public duty to pay more than the law demands.
Under recent administrations, however, we have heard politicians talking about acceptable tax avoidance and unacceptable tax avoidance. Acceptable tax avoidance is anything the Government actively promotes as a way of saving tax, such as ISAs and pensions. Unacceptable tax avoidance is anything it wishes to discourage, such as income shifting between husband and wife, which incidentally was once advocated as normal tax planning by its own Business Link advice service!
We at Acumen prefer to operate a different distinction - that between tax mitigation and highly artificial tax avoidance schemes. We favour tax mitigation as it is based on established tax planning techniques which have been around for years and do not have to be reported to the tax authorities. Artificial tax avoidance schemes however do have to be reported to the authorities and are usually based on exploiting temporary loopholes that are soon closed down, often involving off-shore tax havens. We do not favour these artificial schemes as their legality is often questionable and they tend not to reflect the economic substance of the underlying transactions. In addition, they often have a fairly short life as legislation is enacted to close them down once they become widely known. Furthermore, it can give the tax authorities an open invitation to investigate the affairs of anyone using such schemes.
In adopting this approach we are marching in step with the ACCA who discourage the use of artificially contrived schemes by their members but are in favour of tax mitigation.