PracticeAudit‘Accountants verge on brink of illegality’

'Accountants verge on brink of illegality'

Richard Broadbent, chairman of the board of Customs & Excise, has slammed accountants saying that many are teetering on the brink of illegality.

Link: Volcker tells auditors to improve confidence

Commenting on tax avoidance, which is legal but frowned upon by the UK government, Broadbent suggested accountants should reassess working practices.

‘The accountancy profession has to ask itself whether it is happy that many (accountants) play at the fringes of the law,’ he said.

But John Whiting, tax partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers and former president of the CIOT, objected to what he said appeared like a ‘certain moral blackmail’. ‘It’s an interesting debate,’ he said. ‘Will there be an increasing moral dimension to paying your tax?’

Frank Haskew, senior technical manager of the ICAEW tax faculty, said tax avoidance was ‘never going to go away’ and turned Broadbent’s argument back on the government.

He said Customs & Excise and the Inland Revenue were sometimes guilty of what Broadbent was describing. ‘You only have to look at pensions and ISAs to realise that there’s a lot of state-sponsored tax avoidance,’ he said.

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