Opinion Former Article

Chartered Institute of Taxation responds to launch of tax advice market call for evidence

Commenting on the launch of a call for evidence today on standards in the tax advice market, CIOT President Glyn Fullelove said:

“We welcome the launch of this call for evidence.

“There is no place in the tax profession for those who devise, promote or sell tax avoidance schemes. CIOT and other professional bodies strengthened our Professional Conduct in Relation to Taxation (PCRT) rules in 2017 to make this explicit.

“It is our view that building on PCRT is the best approach to guaranteeing high standards in the tax advice market.

“Regulation must deal with the fact that some 30 per cent of registered tax agents are outside any professional body and consequently neither their clients nor HMRC have any recourse to professional body disciplinary schemes in respect of their work. Additionally many – perhaps a majority – of those who devise and promote avoidance schemes are not tax agents at all. Any reform in this area needs to recognise this and to avoid either putting competent and ethical tax advisers out of business or pushing more tax advisers to operate outside professional bodies.

“We welcome the recognition from government that customer protection is an important element of how the tax advice market is regulated, as well as protecting government revenue. This raises questions, such as, if the State itself is a key player in the tax system, as it has to be, can it also act as the direct regulator of all taxpayers’ agents without detriment to taxpayers’ rights?

“It appears that political support for greater regulation of tax services is growing. Indeed people often express surprise that comprehensive regulation does not exist already. But regulation only makes sense if it can be effective in producing improvements and if it can achieve this at proportionate cost. That is why we believe working through professional bodies to strengthen consumer and exchequer protection, rather than trying to invent a new regulator, is the best approach. We look forward to working with government to achieve this.”

Notes for editors

1. The Call for Evidence, which is open until 28 May, can be viewed here.

2. As defined by HMRC, tax avoidance is “bending the rules of the tax system to gain a tax advantage that Parliament never intended. It often involves contrived, artificial transactions that serve little or no purpose other than to produce a tax advantage. It involves operating within the letter, but not the spirit, of the law.” (Source: Measuring tax gaps 2019 edition)

3. The Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT)

The CIOT is the leading professional body in the United Kingdom concerned solely with taxation. The CIOT is an educational charity, promoting education and study of the administration and practice of taxation. One of our key aims is to work for a better, more efficient, tax system for all affected by it – taxpayers, their advisers and the authorities. The CIOT’s work covers all aspects of taxation, including direct and indirect taxes and duties. Through our Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (LITRG), the CIOT has a particular focus on improving the tax system, including tax credits and benefits, for the unrepresented taxpayer.

The CIOT draws on our members’ experience in private practice, commerce and industry, government and academia to improve tax administration and propose and explain how tax policy objectives can most effectively be achieved. We also link to, and draw on, similar leading professional tax bodies in other countries. The CIOT’s comments and recommendations on tax issues are made in line with our charitable objectives: we are politically neutral in our work.

The CIOT’s 19,000 members have the practising title of ‘Chartered Tax Adviser’ and the designatory letters ‘CTA’, to represent the leading tax qualification.

Contact: CIOT External Relations 0207 340 2702 HVerma@ciot.org.uk / Out of hours: 07740 477 374

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