HMRC's 'Standard for agents' is a non-statutory standard, aimed at all tax agents, although largely to most tax agents who are not members of any of the professional tax and accountancy bodies. 

HMRC considers that agents have a key role to play in the tax system and their role should be supported.

As a result of years of mass marketing of tax schemes and more lately the antics of Income Tax repayment agents, the government has reached a conclusion that "there is a minority of incompetent, unprofessional and malicious advisers whose activities harm their clients, reduce public revenue, and undermine the functioning of the tax advice market."

The Independent Loan Charge Review in 2020 made recommendations that the government should improve the market in tax advice and consider establishing ‘a more effective system of oversight, which may include formal regulation, for tax advisers’.

Members of the professional tax and accountancy bodies all automatically sign up to the Professional Conduct in Relation to Taxation (PCRT) which is a stronger standard than HMRC's Standard for Agents.

HMRC's Standard is being strengthened to create more transparency in the tax advice market for customers, following consultation. 

Agent standards

HMRC says that its Standards expect:


We expect agents to be straightforward and honest with HMRC, for example:

  • Disclose all relevant information.
  • Don’t imply that you’re regulated for tax by HMRC.

Professional competence and due care

We expect agents to:

  • Keep correct and up to date knowledge of the areas of tax that you deal with.
  • Work to prevent errors in your clients’ tax calculations or claims.
  • Advise your client to take steps to set matters right where you find errors in their tax affairs.
  • Keep online access credentials safe from unauthorised use at all times.

Professional behaviour

We expect agents to:

  • Comply fully with tax law and regulations.
  • Ensure your own tax affairs are correct and up to date.
  • Deal courteously and professionally with staff.
  • Consider the risk to reputation of tax agents, of any arrangements that you advise a client about - for example, tax planning schemes."


  • Seven accountancy and tax professional bodies share a standard known as ‘Professional Conduct in Relation to Taxation’ (PCRT).
  • If agents meet the PCRT standard, HMRC does not envisage that this, much briefer, summary of certain important principles will place further requirements on them.
  • HMRC will continue to work with professional bodies to agree a single common standard for all agents.

External links

HMRC's Standard for Agents