The tax bodies have made a second round of comments ahead of HMRC's Tax Agent Strategy consultation (TAS) deadline.

In a joint letter, Anthony Thomas, President of the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT), and Andrew Meeson, President of the Association of Taxation Technicians (ATT), say: 

“In summary, we consider that TAS is moving in the right strategic direction and that self-serve is attractive and useful to many, but by no means all, agents, as it has the potential to save substantial time and cost. There is an overwhelming consensus that there are some fundamental issues, some of which were not flagged up in the consultation document summary, that need to be addressed before HMRC considers proceeding any further. 

“In taking TAS forward, we think that there is still a need to articulate more clearly HMRC’s intended end result of the whole project. At the same time, and unusually for a project of this size, it will be extremely important to focus on much of the detail over which concern has been expressed. This is especially so in respect of safeguards, IT systems and security, before the wider picture evolves. Successful delivery will depend on resolving the concerns highlighted and gaining the necessary support from both HMRC and the professional bodies.” 

In addition to issues raised in the two bodies’ initial response a number of further concerns are highlighted in the letter. These include a clear level of required professional standards for tax professionals both outside and within HMRC and the need for a pledge not to disadvantage those with specialist expertise who take on the toughest cases. 

Nearly two thousand members of the CIOT and ATT have contributed to the response, the biggest member input the two bodies have ever had to a consultation.