The two main tax professional bodies have given heavily qualified support to HMRC’s plans for a system of enrolment of professional tax agents.

The Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) and the Association of Taxation Technicians (ATT) set out their views in their initial joint comments to HMRC on the Tax Agent Strategy consultation: ‘Establishing the future relationship between the tax agent community and HM Revenue & Customs’, which sets out a roadmap for the future relationship between HMRC and tax agents.  Around 1,500 members of the two bodies contributed to the response. 

The consultation document sets out proposals for ‘self-serve’ by enroled agents who would have greater access to HMRC systems, together with the monitoring of agents and dis-enrolling of those with very poor performance. 

Anthony Thomas, President of the CIOT, said: 

“Our members have indicated to us that they are generally happy with the direction of travel of this consultation, but have serious and real concerns about the mode of transport. 

“Tax advisers have indicated that they are not interested in the sweetener of self-serve if it is part and parcel of an unpalatable package which will only manifest itself at a later stage.” 

Andrew Meeson, President of the ATT, said: 

“We welcome the consultation and that HMRC are trying to find solutions to the problems in the tax system. Our members appreciate that something has to be done to improve matters, as indicated in the recent Treasury Committee report. 

“It is important that some key issues are agreed at the outset. There needs to be an independent board to police agent disenrolment and suspension from access to HMRC systems. It needs to be clear who will have access to self-serve: many feel strongly that the unrepresented need some access. And we need reassurance over security of data within HMRC systems if these are opened up to all agents. Until these issues are resolved no professional agent will want to be a part of the system.”