Title: Tolley’s National Insurance Contributions 2004-05
Editor: Jon Golding
Consulting Editor: Peter Arrowsmith
Publisher: LexisNexis UK
National insurance is one of those neglected taxes that practitioners either view as incredibly boring, or ignore in the belief that as a marginal tax the sums due don’t add up to much. Neither assumption is true, as Peter Arrowsmith the consulting editor to this work frequently demonstrates through his regular articles on AccountingWeb.
This book gives you just about all you need to know about National Insurance in 59 chapters plus tables, spread over 800 pages. The chapters are arranged in the traditional fashion by alphabetical subject matter, but with no further detail on the contents page of what lies within each chapter. I surely can’t be the only reader who searches backwards and forwards in the index for the topic of my question before I find the correct paragraph reference. By contrast the Tolley’s Tax Essential series helps the reader to quickly locate topics by setting out the major subheadings under each chapter title on the contents page.
However this volume does pack a lot more in than would be possible within one of the Tax Essentials series. Each chapter is thorough in it’s analysis of the subject giving historical background where meaningful, and complete cross references to legislation, EU Treaty articles, official forms and leaflets, and even to the correct paragraph in the Inland Revenue National Insurance manual. The text is also littered with useful examples that are populated by amusing characters. For example Aphid, Bollweevil, Chafer and Dungbeetle are somehow so much more interesting than misters A, B, C and D.
A particularly useful chapter is the collection of relevant Tax Bulletin articles and National Insurance Newsletters previously issued by the Contributions Agency from 1994 onwards. It is unfortunate that the extra-statutory Revenue view on how a particular rule should be operated in practice is necessary to plot a path through the increasingly complex legislation, which make these newsletter extracts essential reading.
In summary this book supplies all the facts required, but the reader does need a certain amount of prior knowledge to achieve answers to more complex questions. For instance if I have a problem concerning a UK worker seconded overseas I go directly to the ‘Overseas Matters’ chapter. Here I find the text is arranged by subject matter; place of business, residence, etc rather than under the fairly common question I have posed. I should have looked further into the chapter at ‘temporary trans-frontier employments’, but by the time I reach that paragraph I have waded through 20 pages of background.
The Tolley’s annuals are becoming more expensive every year, so are they worth it? Well it depends on the complexity of your tax problems and the depth and detail you require cross references for. If you only need a basic guide I would recommend the far cheaper and more accessible Tolleys Tax Essential Series. If it’s the expert’s point by point breakdown of each sub-paragraph of tax regulation that turns you on, then buy the Tolley’s Tax Annuals.