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Escape from the planet of the Ice Giants

I’m back home and mostly recovered from the jet lag, and according to the doctors I shouldn’t lose too many fingers from frostbite. (I exaggerate, but only a little: as I just spent three weeks in New England—specifically in New York and Boston—my cold weather gear got a bit of use. I mean, only about a metre of snow fell while I was there, and the MBTA only shut down due to a weather emergency twice: by the end of the trip we were making uneasy jokes about Fimbulwinter.)

Along the way I had plenty of meetings and I have some publishing news.

For one thing, I sold a short story (my first in a few years) to the MIT Technology Review. (It’ll be published in their fiction/futures issue, later this year.) And for another thing, “Accelerando” is finally getting a French translation; it’s due to be published by Editions Piranha on April 3rd. Oh, and of course “The Annihilation Score” is coming out for the first time in the UK and USA in the first week of July—that’s the sixth Laundry Files novel.

But the real news is that the trilogy-shaped-object I’ve been gestating at Tor for the past couple of years finally has a publication date and is slouching towards your bookshelves. I say “trilogy shaped object” because “Empire Games” is a single story spanning three books: they’re coming out at three month intervals, starting with “Dark State” in April 2016, to be followed by “Black Rain” and “Invisible Sun”. It’s set in the same multiverse as my earlier Merchant Princes series, although you don’t have to read the earlier series first; it’s about the failure modes of surveillance states and revolutions, the bizarre tendency of bureaucratic organizations to find new purposes for themselves long after their original purpose goes away, and how civilizations deal with existential threats. (Oh, and it has spies, a princess, a space battleship, and an alien invasion—just in case you thought I’d gone totally mundane …)

And to round things off, summer 2016 should also see the publication of “The Nightmare Stacks”, Laundry Files book seven. Because I love you so much that I’ve been writing one of them a year for a while (although I plan to take a year off after this one so I can do something different—every book I’ve written since 2007 has been in-series with something I wrote before then, and I have this itchy urge to surprise you).

So, that’s a four-book year coming up. And maybe there’ll be some short fiction on top. Finally all the hard work I did in 2013-14 is bearing fruit!

93 Comments

1:

Congratulations! Time for a pint(s) tonight and well-deserved tropical vacation?

2:

Congratulations! Time for a pint(s) tonight and well-deserved tropical vacation?

Ahahahaha.

Personally, I plan to rediscover sleep after I've delivered the last of these books, scheduled around October 1st. Except then I have the copy edits and page proofs to deal with.

(Current status: "Annihilation Score" page proofs should be arriving any week now for me to check. "Nightmare Stacks" is only 25% written. "Dark State" is awaiting final edits -- two passes. "Black Rain" requires a major edit pass. And "Invisible Sun" needs its second half taking out back and shooting then re-writing from scratch. All four of these books require a copy edit pass and a page proof checking pass -- minimum one week's work for each -- although with the exception of "Dark State" I don't expect the CE process to overlap with any of the writing/editing.)

Upshot: I'm so busy right now I've put a freeze on public appearances (and holidays) until October, with the exception of already-booked events (the British Eastercon, the Worldcon in Spokane, and a guest of honour gig at the H. P. Lovecraft film festival in Portland).

3:

Your year sounds like a busy one! Would the surprise be a space opera? I hope so, you do them so well.After macro economics in your last one, I am looking forward to your next. Follow your muse - and get some rest!

4:

Nope, not a space opera.

(I have some vague ideas for another Freyaverse novel, but they only arrived yesterday and they need a couple of years to gestate.)

5:

Looks like quite a year in prospect for us readers.

Given the success of the Halting State books, are you prepared to repeat the risk being overtaken by events or political singularities?

...And that's a barbed question: the 'Dark State' surveillance dystopia could be just one Snowden away from being a quaintly nostalgic Ruritainia.

6:

I wanted to thank you for collecting the Merchant Princes books in to trade trilogies. I haven't been been able to find the individuals in my usual haunts, and as we were passing through El Paso on our way to Phoenix for Thanksgiving I found the first trilogy at a Barnes & Noble and quite enjoyed it. I'm almost done with the second collection, I expect to finish it this week and I have the third waiting in the wings. My consumption of fiction is greatly reduced due to getting a new job in November after over two years off, and librarianship classes eating my free time.

Anyway, thanks again, and I'm happy to contribute to your plush lifestyle. I'm also quite looking forward to your future Laundry books, as an IT guy and a gamer/game designer they're quite enjoyable.

7:

As much as you have been working, I'm thrilled for you (and also those of us that read your work) that it's coming to fruition.

I look forward to The Year Of Stross.

8:

>>“The Nightmare Stacks”, Laundry Files book seven.

Maybe it was proposed before already, but "The Nightmare Stacks" just begs for "The Horror Heap" and "The Maleficent Malloc". (It's about an Eldritch Abomination written in C++).

9:

Could I ask if 'Wireless' (or at least 'Palimpsest') has been translated into Czech? I've been trying to find it for a friend, ideally as an ebook. It turns out to be harder to track down foreign-language translations than I'd expected!

10:

Great news! Especially cool about the rapid release of the new three-parter--I'm midway through Southern Reach right now and am excited by this new trend of bucking the conventional wisdom of "series installments need to be published at least a year or more apart..."

11:

Personally, I plan to rediscover sleep after I've delivered the last of these books, scheduled around October 1st.

Are we going to get any sleep today?"
"You'll sleep in October-"

12:

I will note that this mode of publishing imposes brutal demands on the writer.

Firstly: I can normally write 1-2 short novels per year. A tightly-bound trilogy (more like a 1000 page story with two dotted lines down the spine) takes more like 15-18 months. But if it's tightly bound I can't release book 1 for production until book 3 is nailed down in enough detail that I don't need to make retroactive changes. So there is a big-ass cash flow gap in the way the book advances are paid. Advances are split into tranches (a chunk on signing the deal, another chunk on delivery and acceptance of each book, and a final instalment on publication). In this case, the D&A and on-pub money on book 1 (and possibly book 2) is delayed by 1-2 years. Then a shitload of cheques arrive, all bunched up into one financial year, which means the tax authority will view it as a very lucrative year and take a correspondingly big chunk (in the UK, the 40% income tax threshold cuts in at under £40,000; think of the trilogy as 2 years' work, most of which gets paid for in one year). So it's boom and bust time.

Secondly, after each book is copy edited I get to spend 1-2 weeks checking the CEM. I then return it, and the book is typeset, and I take 1-2 weeks checking the page proofs. Running one book per year, this is a 5-10% overhead on my writing time. Rolling three in six months, in contrast, is just brutal -- it eats more than a third of my time during those six months, while I'm trying to write the next book.

Finally, that thousand page story imposes a huge cognitive workload on your author's middle-aged brain. Not to exaggerate: it's significantly more than 3x harder to write a 300,000 word story than a 100,000 word story.

So you won't be surprised to hear that after I finished the first draft I asked my literary agent to beat me with a baseball bat if I ever suggested doing something this stupid again. (And she agreed.)

13:

The work side seems probably unavoidable, but on the money side I wonder if there's a way publishers wanting to explore this territory to come up with different advance/payment structures to smooth the author-end cashflow to make it more doable? (This is of course assuming it's worth it for publishers--will be interesting to see when the sample size is a little bigger if knowing the whole schebang is forthcoming makes enough people otherwise hesitant to start series more likely to pick it up to make it worthwhile.) Definitely no the kind of death march I'd expect any writer to do for everything they do, but would still love to see this a thing that keeps happening in the genre fiction world at least here and there, and that boom-and-bust-years thing does sound pretty punishing...

14:

What you probably want is for me to write 1-2 novellas a year in addition to the single big novel. That'll give you a decent-sized hit every few months.

15:

Welcome back -- I live right between the two cities, in Connecticut. And we've been having some unusually awful weather. Though you had the misfortune to be on ground zero for all of it, for some reason Nature has a dislike for Boston.

16:

Congratulations! (and do try to sleep when possible with all of this)

And yes, the Laundry Files really are the backbone of what I read out of your work now, coming out like clockwork as they do :)

17:

Upshot: I'm so busy right now I've put a freeze on public appearances

Probably not the best phraseology to use if you are still in fear of the fimbulwinter, and a baseball bat attack from your literary agent would affect both person's revenue streams [no to mention nontrivial effects on your long-term well-being and productivity]

I hope she's got another mid-list SF/F writer to rely in the event of you having another 300,000 word idea.

Intrigued about the Freyaverse muse attack you described on twitter.

Another case of wanting to write the book after the book after the one you should be concentrating on?

Hope it has sharks with frickin' laser beams, still.

18:

And voila, as you leave the weather finally peaks above 40f/5c and the rain begins to melt the snow here in Boston. Watch as the UK suddenly suffers unseasonably cold weather.

As a point of reference, though... New York is not in New England. The narcissism of small differences, maybe, since Boston and New York have a lot more in common culturally than New York and DC. But New York City isn't in New England by either New Yorker or Bostonian definition.

19:

Ahhh, bad places we put ourselves into. Well, don't overfry your brain.

20:

I reserve the right to get American geography as wrong as most Americans get European geography.

21:

> Then a shitload of cheques arrive, all bunched up into one financial year, which means the tax authority will view it as a very lucrative year and take a correspondingly big chunk...

Here in Americaland, there used to be a provision in the tax code for "income averaging" which allowed some amount of year-to-year smoothing out of taxable income. It went away in 1986, except for farmers and fishermen. Some very limited possibilities for buffering into, e.g., retirement accounts still exist and there's something called "forward averaging" that the IRS can allow as it pleases them.

https://www.ehow.com/about_6633178_irs-filing-income-averaging-information.html

I gather that the situation where you are isn't much more promising.

22:

Yup. Income averaging is a thing in the UK, too. Trouble is, as I observed earlier, the high tax bracket cuts in very low indeed (under US $60K). I'm lucky/successful enough that in most years I can expect to exceed the 40% income tax level for some of my income. If I have a really bad year I can in theory pay a bit less tax when the cheques come in ... in practice, it hasn't happened yet.

23:

Fluctuating income?

This sounds like one of the (very few) moral justifications for setting up an offshore shell company to receive your publishing income, and receiving a 'salary' or or quarterly dividends from it, into your UK bank accounts.

24:

Any reason you can't get the publishers to delay a payment or two for a year?
Just been re-reading the Merchant princes series, looking forward hugely to where that goes.
Do you mind if I ask one question though? Miriam's technology transfer into world 3 includes brake pads made from...asbestos. Given her medical background and her dislike of ferrying round life ruining drugs, does she not consider she's introducing a world to the joys of asbestosis and associated illnesses?

25:

* Shudder *

Not going there. No way.

In the current climate, setting up an offshore shell company (especially as most of my income comes in USD and is sourced in the USA) is basically tantamount to hanging out a flashing neon sign saying AUDIT ME NOW. Unlike HSBC or J. Random Major Merchant Bank I'm not big enough to get off with a finger-wagging -- I'm just the right size target to make an example of. So I could expect to end up shelling out oodles of money in accountancy bills (and possibly legal bills) before being hung out to dry, even if everything I was doing was entirely legal.

(I've considered setting up a UK company and paying myself a salary/dividends, but rearranging my finances into separate "business" and "domestic" buckets would be a royal pain in the arse, and it'd cost me a chunk extra in bookkeeping fees. Especially as some of my "domestic" expenses are actually "business" ones -- e.g. my office, which used to be a spare bedroom.)

26:

Given her medical background and her dislike of ferrying round life ruining drugs, does she not consider she's introducing a world to the joys of asbestosis and associated illnesses?

Her plan was to upgrade to modern asbestos-free materials just as soon as she could bootstrap a materials lab able to manufacture carbon fibre reinforced resins and similar. She wasn't allowed to get that far before the Clan jerked her choke-chain.

(On the other hand, wait for the other shoe to drop in "Dark State", which is partly set circa 2020 in that universe -- or rather, what it has grown into in the 17 years since the Revolution, with Miriam in exile there and no Clan conservative faction to stop her.)

27:

Ah, OK. Still, I do hope the poor machinist got given a hazmat suit.
(I restore old bikes and volunteer at a tram museum, asbestos safety is drilled into us pretty hard. Sodding stuff was used everywhere, I'm amazed they didn't try making bread or teabags with the damn stuff)

28:

I discovered your writing when Rule 34 came out and have been reading your books at a fairly regular pace since then. All I have left is the last 2 Laundry novels. When I finished those within a few months I was going to twitter something along the lines of "I'm done, please write faster". But four books in 2016? Guess I'll just shelve that joke...

29:

I personally am waiting for Glasshouse II: the Shattering Pane and Glasshouse III: The Dark Panopticon Rises. Not to mention Harry Palmer and the Revenging Meme, followed by Harry Palmer and the Mermaid's Chalice; Harry Palmer and the Loyal Scholar; and Harry Palmer and the Modesty Proposition.

Actually I would probably read all of those books if Charlie wrote them. Just don't do Angleton erotica; that's my thinly veiled ticket to Amazon stardom.

30:

> tax

For your US sales, bring the issue up with your publisher. US "Generally Accepted Accounting Principles" and tax law generally provide for you to break up income generated across more than one tax year.

Though sometimes convenient for inconsquential nobodies like writers, it was originally intended for large businesses, like utilities or defense contractors, where income from single projects might come in over many years.

In general, you can pick which tax year(s) you will declare income in. As examples, you could declare it in a lump up front, a lump at the end, or in multiple installments, not all necessarily of the same size.

GAAP has some fairly strange provisions that may let you retroactively change your accounting method; (1) though doing do after declaring the income on your end might be more trouble than it's worth.

US tax law also makes some limited provisions for "income averaging," specifically for the kind of boom-and-bust income you're talking about. There may be some similar provision under British (Scottish?) tax law.


(1) in my innocence I had expected accounting to be absolute and inflexible; my reaction to the first accounting book I read was "Whaaaaat!?"

31:

It's worth remembering that Publishers have their own cash-flow problems, but their tax structure is different. Corporation Tax, and equivalents elsewhere, don't have the rate jumps that Income Tax has. So shifting a payment date between March and April has the potential to make a bigger difference to the author.

The fast-sequencing of trilogies and series looks like a higher risk for the Publisher, possibly bigger payments for the second and third volumes before the first is published, so looking at the relative size of the payment tranches looks an option if Author and publisher have an established relationship. But with three volumes published in one tax-year perhaps the best answer is to agree a reduced overall advance, and trust to royalties. I don't know how that is timed for tax purposes.

But all this could fall foul of politics. Charlie, I think you missed the big fuss there has been over here about the HSBC, Swiss bank accounts, and tax evasion. That's on a whole different scale to the £40,000 income tax boundary, but compared to a bank loaded with accountants and lawyers, people at your level are easy targets.

32:

Just signed up to say that I'm really looking forward to the merchant princes sequel trilogy! Hope the publication schedule goes as planned. And good to see something new coming up, I enjoy the laundry files novels but I'm keen to see what else you can do.
On the tax thing, I'm actually surprised it doesn't make more sense for you to register a company in the UK and pay yourself partly through a salary and partly through dividends - that's what I do as a contractor and not only does it balance the irregular income but it results (entirely legally and above board) in a higher net income even taking into account accountant's fees. But I guess you know your own circumstances best.

33:

As a long term computer contractor its not that difficult to separate home and work expenses using a limited company although as the fixed rate for using your house is £26 a month its not much of a saving...

The main advantage of a limited company is the ability to drip feed money from it to your personal accounts as and when required... Its nice knowing that you have a year all plausible expenditure readily accessible if necessary...

34:

Angleton Erotica? Thanks for putting that thought in my head. Someone pass me the brain bleach now!

35:

Maybe it was proposed before already, but "The Nightmare Stacks" just begs for "The Horror Heap" and "The Maleficent Malloc". (It's about an Eldritch Abomination written in C++).

I'm fairly certain that it's written in ANSI C, by a guy I used to know who did "write only C", at least as far as anyone else was concerned.

36:

For your US sales, bring the issue up with your publisher. US "Generally Accepted Accounting Principles" and tax law generally provide for you to break up income generated across more than one tax year.

I don't pay income tax in the USA. There's a double-taxation treaty with the UK where I am domiciled (and a citizen); I pay income tax to HMRC, whose rules and regulations -- oddly enough -- are not set by the IRS.

(American authors living in the USA and published in the UK benefit under the same arrangement -- very roughly, you pay income tax to the tax authority of the country you live in, and file paperwork with the income source nation's tax authorities to certify that you're doing so. NB: the USA is one of only two countries I'm aware of -- the other I think is Somalia -- that expects citizens living abroad to pay domestic income tax as we;; as income tax wherever they live.)

37:

Charlie, I think you missed the big fuss there has been over here about the HSBC, Swiss bank accounts, and tax evasion.

Nope, I've been following it and I'm very aware of the implications: one of my personal rules for living by is "don't fuck with the tax authorities". A corollary to this is: "don't give the tax authorities any reason to even suspect that you're fucking with them."

38:

The nicest thing that the UK tax authorities did for me, was to tell me that my tax returns were now so consistently boring [1] that I should just stick to PAYE, and not waste their time with largely empty tax returns. This did not go without a certain amount of envy and swearing from my Accountant wife, who still has to fill them in.

Still, at least it means that the last day of January isn't the source of (quite as much) cursing and swearing in our household as in previous years :)

[1] they only got "interesting" (from an HMRC perspective)[2] the year that my combined incomes as an engineer and as an Army reservist broke the higher-income tax bracket. They got nicely boring again a couple of years later, when I retired from the reserves.

[2] Seconded OGH post. The truly terrifying and wide-ranging power to completely ruin your life don't come from the security services, or even the UKAEA police (National remit, routinely heavily armed, warranted to do what they like if someone says "atomic"); nope, they come from HMRC (or Inland Revenue / Customs & Excise, back in the days of "separation of powers"). They can commit the BD parts of the previous thread's title, and not even blink - while there isn't a thing you can do to stop it... :(

39:

Yup.

As I understand it, HMRC (or at least the "RC" part of them) have the power to break down your doors and search the premises without a warrant, freeze/confiscate your bank account, then bring criminal charges against you (without necessarily unfreezing your accounts so that you can pay for a defense).

That they don't usually do that kind of thing is scant comfort. (As Lavrenti Beria is reputed to have said, "if you have done nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide, comrade".) I'm not disuputing that given their remit they occasionally need such powers in order to do the job they've been given[*]. But I don't want to be on the receiving end of it, even by mistake!

[*] Whether they should have been given it in the first place is another matter.

40:

Confessions of a Samovar

41:

A corollary to this is: "don't give the tax authorities any reason to even suspect

When I was audited (US) nearly 20 years ago they mostly said never mind when they noticed I was not trying to deduct things like home office space and such. It just isn't worth the hassle or audit flagging.

42:

I think to accomplish your point in the US you're suggesting that Charlie switch to accrual accounting. In the US I don't even think a person can do that. But even so you now get to keep two sets of books and likely would want to set up a business to run the accrual income through and then pay himself from that business. Which leads (or did when I last looked into this a decade or so ago) to maybe setting up a sub-S corp. (A US thing.)

And Charlie has already said he's not interested in setting up dual bookkeeping and/or a company to employe him. At least not at his current income levels. I totally sympathize as so far I've made the same choice as him. I have similar levels of income to deal with plus get to currently decide if my wife and I need to start legally residing in separate states. We WOULD save on income tax for complicated reasons but I need to make sure the amount of savings are worth the hassles.

Flat tax proposals with a big starting deduction start sounding appealing during these deliberations. :)

43:

As I understand it, HMRC (or at least the "RC" part of them) have the power to break down your doors and search the premises without a warrant, freeze/confiscate your bank account, then bring criminal charges against you (without necessarily unfreezing your accounts so that you can pay for a defense).That they don't usually do that kind of thing is scant comfort

...and screwing the small- to medium-sized taxpayer is where all the resources and man-and-women power is being devoted.

Don't ask me how or why I know.

You can probably guess.

44:

You could move to Greece, apparently their tax authorities are a little more relaxed...

45:

Your mention of Beria reminded me: Stalin once misplaced his reading glasses, and told Beria. A few days later, Stalin mentioned that he'd found the glasses behind the sofa.

"That's impossible!" exclaimed Beria. "We've already had six people confess to their theft!"

(Anecdote from Max Hastings' book Inferno).

It's stories like this that I think are going to appear in "Empire Games".

46:

I hadn't kept close track of the timing of the story and your trip.

The political fallout involves Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint who moved from being big boss of HSBC to being a Government Minister, and anyone interested can look him up on Wikipedia.

At roughly the same time there was a big case in the USA about HSBC and money-laundering for Mexican drug cartels. I didn't see any mention of that in the UK reporting.

47:

Charlie: When did you last attend Boskone? Hmmm ...


"It's official, Boston has reached its snowiest month on record with 45.5 total inches," the National Weather Service tweeted early Sunday. "The old record was 43.3 in January 2005."

48:

re Angleton erotica ...

"Boy," he said conversationally, "this is going to be messy. Please verify that all the human staff are off the premises, then fetch the night watch."

"Fetch the—what, all of them?"

"Yes, Bob. We're going to need zombies. Lots of zombies."

49:

To the extent I was thinking concretely at all, I was imagining Ballard/Crash type things with all the "special" machines he keeps in his office. Sure, he has plausible reasons to have all that stuff, sure...

50:

To the extent I was thinking concretely about this at all, I was speculating more on a Ballard type line with all the "special" machines he keeps in his office. Sure, he has good technical reasons to keep all that stuff there, sure....

51:

Sorry, 49 looked like it had been eaten by the Devourer of Comments; so I rewrote it.

52:

It's an old distinction going back to colonial times that a lot of Americans probably don't understand. The North/South divide is stronger and both New England and the Mid-Atlantic states are part of the North.

Basically New England was settled by Puritans with weak control by the Crown, and the Middle Colonies were a collection of unrelated without many Puritans that were more controlled by the Crown.

During the reign of Charles II, they were all bundled together into the Dominion of New England, which was ruled from New York and deeply resented and opposed by New Englanders. Which gets a bit confusing because of the names, but basically the Dominion was an attempt to crush New England which was basically the same sort of people who had killed Charles I.

It failed thanks to the Glorious Revolution, at which point all of the colonial governments of New England went back to doing things the way they had before the Dominion. But with added resentment of New York.

53:

You have to remember that asbestos was known to be hazardous from the start - but the degree of hazard/danger was hugely misunderstood.
"White" asbestos was thought to be "safe" - provided it was kept into it's component sheets & not allowed to shred & flake. [ This is largely true, actually ... if you are careful & know what you're doing. *NOTE*] Unfortunately, as stated, it was used, usually in that sheet form in transport a lot ... being trundled around & shaken in trams & trains ... just the ideal conditions likely to result in flakes & bits dropping off & poisoning people ... oops.
OTOH "Blue" asbestos is utterly vile stuff.

*NOTE* I have a 1950's era chemical staorage cabinet with a white asbetos backing - I don't move it & the surface has been painted over to prevent flaking.
Not a problem - for me, but then I was used to dealing with nice chemicals like HF, once upon a day.

54:

Yes
And "a person I know well" tells me that there is a steadily-increasing number of US current "citizens" divesting themseleves of that, to become UK or Irish nationals, & moving over here, so as to NOT pay that ridiculous imposition.
These people are richer than you or I, but they ain't millionaires, either, but having to pay US taxes on ALL your world-wide income is a royal pain, apparently.
[ I've met one, a very nice Hawaian-Japanese-US lady & her other half - who intend to move, I think to Dorset - she had to be reassured by me that it was easy to grow Tomatoes here ... ]

55:

I have you beat. I grew up in a house with an asbestos roof! (I also clearly remember playing with chunks of leftover shingles when I was a kid.) Fortunately for my parents, hail destroyed the roof, and the insurance company ended up footing the bill for remediation and disposal.

And if you think what we used to do with asbestos is bad, look up what people used to do with radium! (And imagine what people 100 years from now will think about hazards we used to take for granted: "I can't believe they used to be so stupid as to allow people to drive their own cars.")

56:

That seems quite sensible; most governments prefer to make their examples out of people who don't own big chunks of them.

57:

& also Charlie @ 39
Sorry ... Customs & Excise were a guvmint department when "The Treasury" was a box of gold under the King's bed.
Apparently there is a guide to revenue-collection from the days of King John { Reg 1199 - 1216 } which is still, really how they work.

58:

More evidence for the theory that a Strauss in Boston is a climatic event! Only need one more occasion to make it a trend.

As for highest tax brackets cutting in early, I'm pretty sure that's by design of conservative parties. It gives their tax cutting efforts a much broader constituency when they top rate they're cutting hits more than just the millionaires.

59:

It's also that they want as many poorer sorts to pay as much tax as possible, yet it also makes them feel rich. "Hey, I'm in the top tax bracket, I must be rich". Except they aren't.

60:

You could move to Greece
This is the man who moved from Leeds to Edinburgh "because Leeds is too hot".

61:

"The nicest thing that the UK tax authorities did for me, was to tell me that my tax returns were now so consistently boring [1] that I should just stick to PAYE, and not waste their time"

HMRC said that to me as well once - then next year they told me I was no longer boring and had to do a self-assessment again (boo).

Of course being 'interesting' is a good problem to have in that it maps pretty closely to being in the upper deciles of the income distribution. My situation is so vanilla (in the original, non-Lord Green meaning of the word) that I can complete my return in an hour or so on the HMRC website, which isn't really such a cross to bear. My other half is a freelancer so she has to put more time into accounting for a rather smaller income, which ain't right but thems the breaks.

As it is I'm reasonably happy dealing with HMRC, as opposed to say the IRS or the German tax authorities. They're pretty straightforward (for a vanilla sort of guy at least) and IME, if you engage with them and don't try to ignore them in the hope they go away (hint: they won't) they are pretty reasonable. Of course my opinion of them is conditioned by my general willingness to actually pay my taxes - if I was at all sketchy on the topic I would likely have a different story to tell.

Regards
Luke

62:

I've worked with all the US TLAs; the IRS is the only one that scares me, because they're the only one with the focus and power to ruin a "normal" individual's life. My grandfather lost his house in Dallas after his business partner ran off with the company funds, not having paid the tax bill. Granddad being easier to find, the IRS just decided it was easier to go after him. Mind you, this was in 1947, but there is no "kinder, gentler" IRS.

63:

Also, congratulations on all your hard working coming to fruition. Try not to work yourself to death before the autumn.

64:

P.P.S. You got a headline in El Reg today for flinging off the MS Word shackles. Good job!

65:

... or after. Also try to avoid accidents and illnesses ;-)

66:

My grandfather lost his house in Dallas after his business partner ran off with the company funds, not having paid the tax bill. Granddad being easier to find, the IRS just decided it was easier to go after him.

Which has led to the rise of LLP's. Limited Liability Partnerships. If folks just say they are a partnership then the liability is joint and so anyone owed money, including the IRS, can go after any of the partners.

In the US.

67:

Whats the point of an LLP?

Here (Ireland) one of the first things you learn in Business courses in college is "forget partnerships, become a limited company". Limited liability being the main explanation. Partnerships then are only used for those for whom limited liability is not allowed, e.g. lawyers.

68:

In the US it is between a general partnership and a corporation. Corporations can be a PITA to administer if the company is small.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limited_liability_partnership

69:

Now that would be a useful business app ... something to 'speedfill' forms ... program it once and then hit repeat for every other government department that's likely to ask you to fill in a form. Very few small businesses change much year-over-year, so most info would stay the same.

70:

" Here (Ireland) one of the first things you learn in Business courses in college is "forget partnerships, become a limited company". Limited liability being the main explanation. Partnerships then are only used for those for whom limited liability is not allowed, e.g. lawyers."

Now, it’s the," (Ireland)” part of your comment that caught my attention.

Once Upon A Time there used to be a Moderately Sized Colony of Artists in Exile in the Irish Republic... thus?..

“That didn’t last, though. By the time Todd and Moira were beginning to get good in their native tongue, Harry had another yearning. He really hated to pay income tax. What’s more, he and I had from time to time discussed the very attractive standing offer the Republic of Ireland had made to any foreign-born but part Irish person, which was instant citizenship and the chance to take advantage of Ireland’s grant of waiver of all income tax for professional artists, including writers. Each of us having the required minimum of at least one Irish grandfather, we were both eligible.

For me those chats were fantasy, because America was the only country I was willing to call mine. Harry, though, was made of sterner stuff With a little help from Anne McCaffrey, who had taken the offer years earlier, and after some talks with Irish embassy people, all of a sudden Harry was miraculously transmuted to Irish and, wife and kids included, was living in a little town outside of Dublin. And Irish he profitably remained for the rest of his life. .."

http://www.thewaythefutureblogs.com/2012/08/another-good-one-gone-harry-harrison-19252012/

Harry is among the Grim List of my Friends who ...HELLS TEETH HE WAS ONLY 87!


Last night I did read your post, and did look for the Irish Tax -- Never Call It a Scam as it was described to me by Harry Himself -- but I've, err, ..Hum...mislaid it at the other side of that bottle of Shiraz.

So,still, my memory, as of now, doesn't refuse to tell me that the Irish Tax Exemption for Artists of the Literary Persuasion isn't up there somewhere in My Archives, and since my mental state of the moment - after a year of Gloom Despondency and Death of Friends - alters my focus then you will damn well have to use your own professional skills to find the Irish Tax..Never call it a Scam for Artists... thingy, if it still exists.

Mind you, it will Rain UP rather than down before Charlie Stross deserts Scotland for a Tax Exile someplace ElseWhere.

I wonder if the Newish Semi Independent Peoples Republic of Scotland would consider tax exemption for artists.

This, as nearly would have been, a good deal easier if things had turned out differently.


WHY HAVE YOU DONE THIS TO ME SCOTTISH PEOPLE!?


I had convinced myself that the penalties that would be paid, hereabouts where I live, by the People of the North East of England would be worth it in the interest of putting two fingers into the Eyes of the Tories - WHY > Why?!!!

SOB.

71:

"Very few small businesses change much year-over-year, so most info would stay the same."

The info might, just possibly, remain the same, BUT, the forms would change since quite a few GovMent Official Savants make their living from changing the Shape of Things Formish. This on the God Old Fashioned Executive Seagull Principle...The Executive Seagull Flies in to The Organisation, Perches for awhile on High and Craps Copiously so as to change the Appearance of the Corporate Landscape a Bit, and then the Executive Fly’s Onward to the Happy Land of Executive Promotion ... leaving some other poor sod to clean up the Mess that has been left behind.

The Executive Seagulls Dream of Heaven would be the equivalent of the UK Governments ever so dramatic change from...

" Online, the abuse was vitriolic. One Facebook post asked: “Know anyone who works for Atos? Kill them”; another described employees as “murderous scumbags”. In the past six years the company has been targeted repeatedly by protesters who picket its offices, waving placards that state: “Atos Doesn’t Give a Toss”, or more brutally: “Atos Kills.” To counter the heightened sense of alarm, Atos doctors and nurses were equipped with panic buttons, and the layout of the assessment rooms was changed so that health assessors could sit close to the door, allowing them to flee if necessary.

Last March, the company announced it was quitting its five-year £400m contract early, paying to escape prematurely with a “substantial financial settlement” to the Department for Work and Pensions. (“Atos declared not fit for work,” headlines noted.)

In March, a new, US company, Maximus, will take on the job of assessing whether claimants are eligible for sickness and disability benefits. To listen to ministers’ excitement about the switch, it is as though this moment heralds a beautiful new dawn for the most controversial scheme in the government’s welfare reform programme."


http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/jan/18/after-hated-atos-quits-will-maximus-make-work-assessments-less-arduous

72:

The info might, just possibly, remain the same, BUT, the forms would change since quite a few GovMent Official Savants make their living from changing the Shape of Things Formish.

I work with architects. Most of them maintain a typewriter just so they can fill out the various forms. Volume is low enough to not be worth automating but often enough to keep a typewriter in the corner. 1 or 2 a month. Especially there's this form if federal money is involved. 11x17 landscape or something like that.

73:

"Very few small businesses change much year-over-year, so most info would stay the same."

The info might, just possibly, remain the same, BUT, the forms would change since quite a few GovMent Official Savants make their living from changing the Shape of Things Formish.

Oh Ghod yes! Back when I worked in the Dinosaur Pen at Dunlop we used to dread The Printing Of The Tax Forms, because they changed the layout every single year. Someone must have had relatives in the forms design or continuous stationery trades (more likely: both).

74:

The Irish artists' tax loophole still exists, but thanks to a certain big-ass stadium rock band, the unconditional exemption only covers the first €240,000 of your income. (This is admittedly far more than I've ever earned in a year.)

And even if you've got a UK passport, it takes 3 years' residence before you're eligible for Irish citizenship.

I've considered it, but (a) I like public services (like the NHS), and (b) I'd have to spend three years living in Ireland without the benefits -- paying a higher rate of tax -- before I could hope to qualify. It's simply not worth the hassle ... unless/until the LabCons finish selling off the state and privatizing everything while still taxing the hell out of us to pay their cronies subsidies for running inferior versions of the outsourced services. Then I'll consider it again.

75:

Another possible issue with Ireland is that their abortion laws make my home state of Texas look progressive by comparison. So if you are a woman, or married to one, or related to one, or friends with one, or just a grumpy sort-of libertarian like myself, its something to consider.

76:

This isn't really a suitable forum for discussing Ireland's abortion laws. Let's just say that it's a national scandal that for many years was swept under the rug due to proximity to the UK; but if you visit Dublin for a week you'll have difficulty not tripping over a demonstration on the subject, or reading fulminating newspaper editorials. Something's going to change soon, if only because the rest of Ireland hasn't exactly been standing still for the past 30 years.

77:

Charlie,
Kinda back on the topic of upcoming publications - I've read Halting State and Rule 34, plus the Laundry Files works to date. If you were curating your own works (and who better?), where do you think I should focus next?

I nominate tax issues and related state tragicomedy as another strange attractor.

78:

Tax exempt status for nationals resident in spatially contiguous parallel continua . Discuss

79:

Please be careful with comments like that: it would be very unfriendly to force OGH to rewrite "Empire Games" yet again.

80:

Gather round people, gather round friends. . . and I shall reveal to you the awful truth about Ireland's tax exemption for artists.

It all started with a guy called Anthony Cronin, who was special advisor on artistic matters to none other than Charles J. Haughey, the prince of darkness.

Cronin advised the bold CJH that "if you control the artists, you can control the people".

Think about that one for a while. Take as much time as you need.

81:

Haughey, not Lynch I was sure it was longer ago: I remember Harry Harrison telling a story of an English novelist (who also had doubled initials) being loud and sneery at some cultural shindig in Dublin about what fools the Irish government were to let him avoid tax - only to have Jack Lynch tap him on the shoulder and remind him of his manners....

82:

Haughey? Not Lynch? I was sure it was longer ago: I remember Harry Harrison telling a story of an English novelist (who also had doubled initials) being loud and sneery at some cultural shindig in Dublin about what fools the Irish government were to let him avoid tax - only to have Jack Lynch tap him on the shoulder and remind him of his manners....

(clicked "submit" too early)

83:

Ah. It was indeed Haughey - contemporary comment from That Spectator

84:

It's largely forgotten now that Haughey was quite progressive during his stint as minister of justice in the 1960s - he effectively ended censorship of literary works, for example.

85:

Fans of Game of Thrones (the TV series) may enjoy Aiden Gillen's portrayal of Haughey in a recent Irish miniseries on the "great" man's life (suffice to say that Gillen's tenure in the role of Littlefinger was a mere prelude to this later dramatic challenge). They may not enjoy it as much as fans of unintentional hilarity.

86:

Cronin advised the bold CJH that "if you control the artists, you can control the people".

... he effectively ended censorship of literary works, for example.

So he preferred more subtle methods of control?

87:

He preferred anything that would fill his capacious pockets with brown envelopes full of money from deniable sources.

He was an utterly appalling person, even for a politician.

88:

What gets me is that the RC church, even now, after all the scandals, has enough power in Ireland (together with a truly unholy church-alliance in the NOrth) to be able to keep this stranglehold in position.
It's an utter disgrace.
Mid you it could be worse, it could be El Salvador (Euuuew )


DJPoK @ 87
Seconded

89:

IIRC the IRS recently seized a (very young) child's bank account to pay penalties for her father.

90:

To put up a contrary argument but not defending the IRS.

Since this is the IRS this most likely means the US. In the US most children's bank accounts are really in the names of the parents with the children's names also on the accounts. Incomes, reporting, taxes, etc... in almost all cases flow to the parents until the child is 18.

91:

This surprise you mentioned - could it be something like a full length version of Palimpsest? I would happily pay a couple of weeks wages for that book, the novella is still the best thing I've ever read.

On the subject of taxation, as a UK civil servant I would suggest that all of this talk of clever accountancy seems like far too much hard work, it would be much easier to just pay more tax in the good years.

92:

Nope.

Think in terms of a different genre from anything I usually write in. And a different style. And a different tone.

("Palimpsest" the novel is still on my to-do list, but probably not before 2017 at the earliest.)

If I was serious about avoiding tax, I'd already have moved to Ireland. But (a) I'm lazy and (b) I like my public services, KTHX.

93:

Looking forward to LF6! Keep 'em comin'!

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