Thursday, December 31, 2009

Review of TaxBuzz blog 2009

The TaxBuzz blog is now over two years old and contains over 200 posts covering a wide range of tax related topics. As 2009 draws to a close, you may be interested to see this summary and review of my posts over the last 12 months.

At the start of 2009 I set myself a target to add at least two topical tax related commentary or policy related posts to the blog each week. I've tried to steer clear of trying to achieve the impossible - ie: commenting on every tax related story highlighted by the media. Equally I did not want this to become a series of posts about tax planning. So how would I decide what to write about? And could I identify a consistent style or approach?

How did I do?
Well, in 2008 there were only 86 posts. In 2009 we moved up to 113 including this one. So, on average I exceeded my target although I didn't manage 2 posts every single week. Looking back I can see that some of the posts are much longer than I would have liked - and longer than I had anticipated. As Abraham Lincoln is reputed to have said: “I'm sorry I wrote such a long letter. I did not have the time to write a short one.” One of my ambitions for 2010 is to write shorter pieces for the TaxBuzz blog.

As you might expect from the note at the top of this blog many of the posts were inspired by tax related stories in the media. In some cases I simply offered support, clarification and, where appropriate, balance. More frequently though I questioned, challenged or disputed news reports that had the potential to mislead; I sought to offer a more informed view. This was particularly evident when I posted 3 items by reference to the TV programme 'Taking on the Taxman' last April. Here's a reminder of some others:
There were 4 other key areas of focus in 2009:
  • Forecasts, predictions and insights - Anticipating the impact and behavioural changes that will follow from tax developments and announcements;
  • MPs expenses - I first started writing about the tax related issues in a post on 11 February 2008, then in January and March 2009 before a series of posts in May 2009 when the Telegraph revelations were published. I've returned to the subject a couple of times more recently too.
  • Hard to believe - a number of posts highlighted bizarre but true topical stories about our tax system.
  • Tax avoidance - even I'm surprised by how often I have written about this subject. Many posts highlight the commonly overlooked risks and downsides of structured schemes; others refer to misunderstandings as to what the system allows; and others refer to changes in the tax rules that affect the likely success and penalties for abusive tax avoidance and tax evasion.
Many thanks to all those who have read, linked to, retweeted, ticked the reaction box at the end of a post or added comments to posts on the TaxBuzz blog this year.

It was quite instructive to look back at all the posts made during 2009. Many stood out and some I had forgotten. One of these amused me especially. It's from February and was titled: Instead of customers, why doesn't the taxman call us...? Having considered many options, including those suggested by others, my conclusion was that we should be known as CBI (Companies, Businesses and Individuals).

Please feel free to add below your thoughts and perceptions of the TaxBuzz blog 2009.

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