Home' Napier Mail : June 7th 2011 Contents 10 NAPIER MAIL, JUNE 8, 2011
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Teaming up with your accountant
The onus is on you: Local accountant Pene Johnstone says business
owners must accept responsibility for their own financial affairs, but
never act without expert advice.
By CAROLYN VEEN
A recent Napier Mail s article on Ron
Massey s mentoring advice to strug-
gling Hawke s Bay businesses has
sparked nationwide debate among
businesspeople, according to the Tax-
Agents Institute of New Zealand.
The institute s president, Napier
accountant Pene Johnstone, said the
soundness of accountants as
business advisers is more about
teamwork than responsibility.
Business owners are account-
able by law for their own tax
affairs, so when things go wrong
it s the business owner who gets
into trouble, but on the other
hand no business owner can
afford to navigate the complex
tax and business landscape
without expert advice, she said.
Most accountants will have
their clients sign disclaimers,
which basically absolves the
accountant of responsibility
when things go wrong, so I agree
with Ron Massey when he says
business owners must be respon-
sible for their own affairs.
However, Angela Williams
[Hastings chartered accountant]
makes the valid point that the
complexity of legislation and
IRD policies, which change
almost daily, make it impossible
for the business owner to func-
tion safely and profitably with-
out expert quality advice from
his or her accountant or tax
Business, she said, is about
the numbers, pure and simple.
Only an accountant is prop-
erly qualified to understand the
complicated landscape of profit
and loss, cost, taxes and com-
Unfortunately, as tax
specialists, we re often the
ambulance at the bottom of the
cliff, and I have worked with
accountants after their clients
have got into strife with IRD
because the business owner
ignored the issue, was ignorant
of law and policy, didn t seek
advice or didn t disclose every-
thing that they should have to
their accountant. My point is
that you work with your
accountant or tax specialist to
make sure your business
financial and tax affairs are
properly in place, but this does
not mean you abdicate respons-
ibility for it.
Ms Johnstone likened TINZ to
the special forces of tax issues.
It represents about 300 tax
specialist members nationally,
as well as fostering the develop-
ment of quality taxation advice
in New Zealand, she said.
And, along with its members,
it represents the interests of all
people obligated to pay tax.
One of only two organisations
granted approved advisor
group status by the Inland Rev-
enue (the other being the New
Zealand Institute of Chartered
Accountants), TINZ members
must comply with an enforce-
able code of ethics, which covers
four main areas: integrity; trust
and confidence; standards of ser-
vice; and professional conduct.
Failure to comply can lead to
a range of sanctions, including
fines and termination of
School learns from meltdown
A costly computer meltdown at
Napier s William Colenso Col-
lege jolted the school back to
reality, says principal Daniel
After a server crashed it was
found backup systems were not
operating effectively but student
work was safe, he said.
A proposal to fly in American
data recovery experts was no
longer being considered.
The problem had been
incredibly frustrating and at
times distressing , he said.
The meltdown would be costly
but the expense of rebuilding
the server and ensuring the sys-
tem was less at risk in the
future was still unknown.
Student music, photography
and design work was on an
Apple Mac server which was
unaffected by the crash.
All student assessment data
was held in hard copy.
It s jolted us back to reality.
On the positive side it s meant a
lot more face-to-face communi-
cation. Some staff have not
missed not having an inbox to
deal with, myself included I
have to say, Mr Murfitt said.
Toast Computers owner Steve
Pearce said it was common to
discover back-up systems were
not operating after a hard drive
crashed. Anyone in business
would have a system or protocol
where files were backed up once
or twice a week.
Backing up files was the first
rule of computing, he said.
Trying to recover files was
costly, with charges of $900
standard for a household hard
drive to be sent to Auckland for
Word documents aren t such
a big deal but when you lose
your photos you lose your family
history, Mr Pearce said.
Backing up files was easy and
cheap for householders and if
people didn t know how to do it
they should contact someone
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