The UK's main professional tax and accountancy bodies have made a joint statement in support of the mandatory registration of tax agents. 

Accountant

The Professional Conduct in Relation to Taxation (PCRT) group, has submitted a response to the HMRC's latest consultation, Raising Standards of tax advice market: strengthening the regulatory framework and improving registration. The PCRT group consists of the:

  • Institute of Chartered Accountants England & Wales (ICAEW)
  • Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT)
  • Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)
  • Association of Taxation Technicians (ATT)
  • Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT)
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS)
  • Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP).

The government has outlined three possible stand-alone regulatory approaches. The PCRT group acknowledges action is needed but points out there is no 'one size fits all' solution. The alternatives from the government are:

  1. Mandatory professional body membership.
  2. Joint HMRC-industry enforcement (a 'hybrid model').
  3. Regulation by a government body.

Whilst approach one is generally seen as the most favourable, it must be appropriately designed and scoped. A range of approaches will likely be needed. One necessary element is likely to be a better use of existing gateways to report poor conduct by members of professional bodies.

The eventual solution must be in the public interest with parity between all individuals and firms providing tax advice. Quantifying the potential costs of increased regulation is crucial and costs need to be proportionate to the problems identified.

The outcome of the consultation on the reform of the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) rules will be of fundamental importance.

Useful guides on this topic

Raising Standards in the Tax Market: Tax Registration
HMRC continues consulting on  'Raising standards in the tax advice market – strengthening the regulatory framework and improving registration' this focuses on mandating tax registration for agents. It also outlines proposals for strengthening the regulations, its administration and enforcement.

Professional Conduct in Relation to Taxation
The Professional Conduct in Relation to Taxation (PCRT), adopted by the main professional accounting and tax bodies, sets out the professional standards that are expected of a member when undertaking tax work.

AML: Anti-Money Laundering Zone
AML Zone contains checklists and guidance on the Anti-Money Laundering requirements that businesses need to follow.

External link

ICAEW: PCRT bodies make joint statement on tax regulation