Cover of MoneyWeek magazine issue no 437

Fields of gold

29 May 2009 / Issue 437

It's time to get back into agriculture...PLUS:

  • Paul Hill: Snap up this bargain-basement tech stock
  • The man cashing in on adultery
  • Matthew Lynn: Central bankers are blowing bubbles again


MPs must cut public spending

Of all the outrageous stories about expenses claimed by our MPs, from moat-cleaning to property empire-building, the most galling was the one about Alistair Darling charging us for the accountant who helped fill out his tax return.

Every year – usually the week before it’s due in, I’m ashamed to admit – I have a mad scramble to dig up all my receipts, track down my self-assessment form and hope the computer doesn’t crash while I’m filing a return that grows more complicated with every passing Budget.

If I want the luxury of help, I have to pay for it. Yet the man who puts me through this misery – the man who in effect writes the tax laws – gets someone else to do it for him, and then charges the fee to you and me. The cheek!

So I was glad to see that HM Revenue & Customs has pointed out to Mr Darling and the 40-odd MPs who did the same, that “accountancy fees incurred in connection with the completion of a personal tax return are not deductible” and, indeed, never have been. So at least the taxman will be able to claim a small chunk of our money back to waste elsewhere…

• Read the full editor’s letter here: MPs must cut public spending