Friday, July 12, 2013


BLOG 138




I started this blog some years ago with the encouragement of my partners at Blackstone Franks LLP.  Blackstone Franks is now no more!  Well that’s not quite correct.  Blackstone Franks merged at the beginning of last week with CBW and is now CBW Blackstone Franks.  We have moved to CBW’s offices in Aldgate.


CBW is a larger firm than Blackstone Franks but its clientele is similar and so is its philosophy.  It also seems to be a fun firm to work for – although it may of course be that everyone was making an extra effort for our first week.


It’s a great move for me because CBW are letting me carry on much as before and in addition hopefully their clients will provide a lot of interesting new problems for me to solve.  They also want me to help them develop their tax consultancy practice and I am very much looking forward to that new challenge!


The demise of Blackstone Franks does not spell the end of the Journals of Robert Maas.  It does however mean that if you have been used to finding this blog via the Blackstone Franks website, I don’t know how much longer you can continue to do so as I suspect that CBW will want to close the site down.  However you can still access it through blogspot –


What is likely to be a bigger challenge is that CBW operates a paperless office.  Now I’m not entirely IT illiterate but I tend to be a bit of a Luddite (OK, I admit it! I’m a Luddite and don’t want to have to learn to live in the digital world) so I’m not looking forward to having to survive without hard copy files.


Talking about hard copies, I tend to print out tax consultation papers.  I like to scribble my comments alongside as I read a document.  I notice that HMRC are no longer allowed to put their consultation papers on their website.  It transfers the reader to a new cross-government site, “Publications – Inside Government – GOV.UK”.  I have just downloaded two Treasury consultation papers from the site.  One of them is entitled “HM Treasury. Hjgu!Bje!boe!ejhjubmthjwjoh. Kvmz!3124” and the other is called “HM Treasury. Tvqqpsujoh!uif!fn qmpnzf f. px of st I jq! t f dups” Kvmz 3124”.  Fortunately the body of both documents is in English so I will be able to read them.  The first is about Gift Aid and digital giving and the second is about Changes to ISA qualifying investments.  I hope that I can remember which bit of government gibberish relates to which!


Talking of consultation documents, I notice that the Gov.UK website does at least retain the contrast between thrifty HMRC and wasteful HM Treasury.  Some years ago HMRC realised that, like me, a lot of people print out their consultation papers and that accordingly they should be conscious of this and edit out blank pages and duplicated front pages on the digital version of their website.  That cuts down on wasted paper.


For the Treasury, by contrast, it’s, “Money no object; after all its taxpayer’s money, not ours.  Let’s just put the paper version on the web as it stands rather than have to spend a few minutes to remove unnecessary pages”  But then you’ve probably noticed that the George Osborne version of austerity is that local authorities must cut their budgets but it would be wholly unrealistic to expect central government to do the same, so the Treasury’s budget was increased, albeit not by as much as he would have done in more exuberant times.






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