'Complex complaints' push Taxation Disciplinary Board work to new level

by Calum Fuller

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14 Jul 2014

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A RISE IN COMPLEX COMPLAINTS has driven a second record year of new cases handled by the Taxation Disciplinary board.

In all, 47 complaints were received by the board in 2013, compared to 45 in 2012.

An increase in complaints, the board said, were made involving several claims and more often involving more than one jurisdiction, taking significantly more time to disentangle.

The TDB is an independent body set up to deal with complaints and disciplinary matters involving members of the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIoT) and the Association of Taxation Technicians (ATT).

In its latest report the body confirmed the 47 new complaints received in 2013 raised in total 71 separate grounds for complaint - down from 76 in 2012 - with failure to respond to correspondence in a timely manner topping the list with 17 citations. It was closely followed by failure to register for anti-money laundering purposes, which attracted 13 complaints.

Eight actions were received following failure to report disciplinary action taken by another professional body, while complaints were also made for inflating fees or charging for work not done, incompetence, discreditable conduct, fraud or fraudulent trading, criminal convictions, inadequate professional service, failing in duty of care, poaching of clients, dishonesty, and professional misconduct.

Despite the growth in the number of cases the TDB is processing, it claims to have absorbed the increase without longer case-handling times, and with no increase in the number of cases outstanding at the end of the year.

There are no plans at present to increase staff numbers to deal with the rising number of complaints.

TDB chairman and law society chief executive, Des Hudson, said: "A growing number of complaints are raising more complex policy and procedural issues, adding to our workload, but attempts to challenge our procedures in the courts, up to and including the Court of Appeal, have all been dismissed.

"Our participant bodies, the profession and the public as a whole can continue to have every confidence in the board and should be pleased that the overall percentage of members and students whose conduct results in a complaint is so low. In all cases we do our best to balance the public interest in ensuring that our processes and responses to the concerns of complainants are fair and proportionate, whilst remaining effective in dealing with misconduct."

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