Obituary: Victor Durkacz

Victor Edmund Durkacz, tax consultant and lecturer: born 4 September 1952; Director, National VAT Services, KMG Thomson McLintock 1985-87; Group Manager, Deloitte Haskins and Sells Scottish Customs and Excise Group 1987; proprietor, Durkacz and Co 1987- 93; married (two daughters); died Edinburgh 20 March 1993.

VALUE ADDED TAX is not a popular tax, and few who administer it or advise on it do not have reservations about disclosing the nature of their work to neighbours or even friends. Victor Durkacz needed to have no such reservations.

Durkacz's innate honesty and reasonableness left people with the feeling that in whatever activity he was engaged he would bring to it standards that would always be of the best. His death at the age of 40 is not only a tragedy for his family and friends, but represents the loss of a man who, in a cynical world, was not only supremely effective in what he did, but who set the highest ethical standards, which influenced both those involved in administering VAT and those involved in it.

Durkacz recognised the importance of the new-fangled tax before most accountants and lawyers. Having gained a First Class degree in history at Dundee University and a doctorate, the substance of which appeared as a book, The Decline of Celtic Languages (1983), he left the academic world behind and became Director, National VAT Services, at KMG Thomson McLintock in 1985. He later became Group Manager of Deloitte Haskins and Sells Scottish Customs and Excise Group, and finally in 1987 formed his own company, Durkacz and Co, to offer specialist VAT consultancy services.

His first major impact on the VAT world was the thesis he submitted for his Fellowship of the Institute of Taxation - forbiddingly entitled 'VAT Planning for Land and Property Transactions following the 1984 Finance Act'. It was never going to be a bestseller, but nearly everybody engaged on VAT obtained a copy. When VAT advisers or administrators met, it became the subject of a game in which status points could be obtained by identifying errors in the thesis: very few such points were ever gained.

Durkacz was a member of the editorial board of Taxation, and on the Institute of Taxation's Indirect Tax sub-committee. He was also a long-time editor of the monthly publication VAT Intelligence. His more immediate impact on VAT thinking however was in the direct contributions he made to Taxation and to VAT Intelligence. His articles clarified new problems and resolved old ones, and also continually impressed on the revenue authorities the need to administer VAT fairly. Many arguments on major VAT issues included the phrase: 'But Victor says'.

Durkacz never lost a case at a VAT Tribunal. This record is impressive enough in itself, but was made more so by the manner of its achievement. It was very much a matter of diligence and intelligence giving David a victory over Goliath.

The most enduring memory of Victor Durkacz for those who work in VAT is that, in an extremely competitive field, he found time to help other practitioners and do it in such a way that it raised the status of the people he helped. When the VAT Practitioners Group, a collection of accountants, lawyers and other tax practitioners which had come together to seek to ensure that VAT is applied in as equitable and practical manner as possible, set up a Chapter in Scotland, Durkacz naturally became its first chairman. He was concerned with doing things well, but also with doing things properly. Virtually everybody who works on VAT as an administrator or as an adviser owes a debt to him.

VAT was not, of course, all Durkacz's life. He was a quiet person with a wry sense of humour. He was also a devoted family man. He liked nothing better than spending time with his wife, Mary, and young daughters, Katherine and Laura, at their cottage in the country overlooking Trapain Law on the one side and Berwick Law and the sea on the other.

(Photograph omitted)

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350-£400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350 - £400 per ...

HR Manager - HR Generalist / Sole in HR

£30000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - HR Generalis...

Business Analyst - Banking - London - £350-£400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: Business Analyst - Banking - People Change - Lond...

HR Manager - Milton Keynes - £50,000 + package

£48000 - £50000 per annum + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Shared...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve