Monday, August 30, 2010

King Kong can step aside at 'tax time'

Image: The original King Kong from the 1933 movie. Courtesy wikipedia.

MONSTERS of the big screen, such as King Kong, Freddy Krueger and even Godzilla, fail to evoke as much terror as a certain real-life antihero. A film producer should glorify 'The Taxman'. Imagine browsing the cover notes in your favourite video store: "He keeps his victims in bondage and tortures them for their entire lives – they scramble for their records but no one can escape The Taxman." 'Return of the Taxman', 'Son of Taxman' and 'Nightmare at Tax Time' would definitely get an X rating.

PLEASE forgive my attempt to inject humour into such a serious matter: Every winter many have tremors, not because of the cold but because the end of the financial year brings the dread of reporting to one of the most powerful authorities. My dad gave me good advice. "Never tell lies – but especially not to your mum, your wife and the taxman." That was it, without even a permit for the occasional 'little white lie'. Before I hunt through bundles of paper and ransack the wardrobe, a recent notice in the Classifieds caught my eye.

PHIL Higgins asked, "Are you having trouble with accounting records? Need a hand?" and even gave an answer: "Retired accountant loves a challenge." Phil was born in Sydney and worked for one of the "big eight" firms, Smith Johnson and Company, which evolved into Peat Marwick Mitchell and further into the professional services giant KPMG. In 1971, he moved with his family to Alexandra Hills, which became his base as he continued in commercial accounting on international projects in many countries.

PHIL worked on joint ventures for large-scale interests including the Packer group, CRA and BHP and, mainly in the early 1980s, also the floating of public companies. He retired for health reasons and now takes much satisfaction from assisting small businesses. His main interest is not directly in tax but rather in "resurrection" of business recording, but Phil agrees some tend to suffer a type of tax paralysis in which fear hinders the task of getting their affairs in order.

"PEOPLE fall off the bandwagon for various reasons; in some cases their accountants let them down; in others they are simply scared they haven't done things correctly," he says. "They can be afraid of the taxman and get very bad visions locked in their head about what will happen, when the reality is very different." Phil says small businesses cannot afford to pay the fees that big agencies need for the often-time-consuming task of rehabilitation, so he is happy to provide an afforable service, made possible because of his retirement.

Thanks for joining me to meet the people in the marvellous community of classified advertising. This column has appeared in The Redland Times.

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