HMRC have opened a new call for evidence ‘Raising standards in the tax avoidance market’ which seeks suggestions on how to raise and maintain high standards of competence and behaviour in the tax advisory market.

At a glance

The government recognises that anyone can set up as a tax adviser. Whilst those who are members of a professional body maintain professional competency and sign up to codes of conduct e.g. the Professional Conduct in Relation to Taxation (PCRT):

  • Not all professional bodies include the PCRT in their standards.
  • Not all of those who provide tax advice are members of a professional body and some do not interact with HMRC on a regular basis.
  • There is no standard competency requirement or code of ethics except the HMRC Standard for Agents, which mirrors the PCRT.

Prior to launching the call for evidence, HMRC held informal discussions with interested stakeholders over a two-year period. The aim of the call for evidence is to ensure:

  • Better market transparency to give taxpayers the information they need to choose an adviser who meets their needs and who is an appropriately competent professional who maintains high ethical standards and to avoid anyone who is unsuitable.
  • Better compliance with the tax rules.

HMRC proposes to do this by exploring, through the call for evidence, a consultation on disguised remuneration schemes and round table discussions:

  • What tax advice and tax services mean.
  • How good tax advisers add value and the reasons for and impact of poor adviser behaviour.
  • How to protect consumers in the tax advice market.
  • The impact of government intervention on the tax advice market.
  • Worldwide examples of regulation to raise standards, especially in countries requiring tax advisers to register with a statutory regulator e.g. Australia, Germany and Czech Republic.

Six different options are suggested by the call for evidence:

  • Option A: Better use of HMRC’s or government’s current powers.
  • Option B: Improve rights of recourse for consumers.
  • Option C: Improving transparency - helping consumers to make better choices.
  • Option D: Penalties for tax advisers.
  • Option E: maximising the regulatory/supervisory role of current professional bodies.
  • Option F: External regulation.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the deadline for the call for evidence is extended to 28 August 2020 and responses should be sent to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Professional Conduct in Relation to Taxation

External link

‘Raising standards in the tax avoidance market’: call for evidence