An increasing number of tax practitioners could soon have their collars felt as HMRC pledges to “significantly increase” the number of disclosures it makes to professional bodies.
The news follows a series of measures by the Revenue, designed to combat individuals who promote aggressive tax schemes. These include forcing high-risk operators to warn potential clients that they are under scrutiny, and the introduction of strict liability offences for offshore evasion.
An unnamed HMRC source told news site Accountancy Age that the government expected professional bodies to “take a greater lead and responsibility in setting and enforcing clear professional standards around the facilitation and promotion of avoidance”.
Last week, it emerged that the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) has failed to discipline any of its members for placing clients in tax avoidance schemes. This seemingly contradicts the tough stance exhibited by the organisation three years ago.
The institute hit back, claiming the Revenue has passed on “little information that we have been able to act on”. It added that it was only able to take action in cases where there has been a complaint (such as from HMRC), or if there is sufficient evidence in the public domain to justify an investigation.
HMRC countered this statement by claiming it had made public interest disclosures to the ICAEW in the past on occasions where members had appeared to “fall short of the expected professional and ethical standards.” It promised to work closely with the organisation and other professional bodies to make sure more action can be taken.
ClearSky – the contractor accounting experts
At ClearSky, we are dedicated to helping contractors make the most of their hard-earned money, while keeping on the straight and narrow at all times. We would actively discourage any client from taking part in aggressive tax avoidance schemes, instead providing practical guidance on how they can limit their tax liability.
We also keep clients well-informed about all their tax and accounting obligations, ensuring they are aware of any important deadlines.