Profile – Mike Howlett, Ernst & Young

Mike Howlett has the whole of the Midlands before him following his promotion to Ernst & Young’s tax investigation director for the region.

Before joining E&Y in 1997, Howlett worked at the Inland Revenue for 20 years, going on to head the serious fraud tax investigation unit. He says he is looking forward to returning to a role in practice. ‘Dealing with tax investigations from the other side of the fence has been a challenge, but I’m sure there are interesting times to come in the tax investigation business,’ he predicts.

With the introduction of corporate self-assessment and the second year of the much criticised personal self-assessment on the horizon, he won’t be short of challenges.

Howlett believes his old employer has been heavy-handed in its handling of self-assessment: ‘The Revenue’s new tougher approach concerns me. I think tax inspectors need to show greater understanding of how stressful their investigations can be for innocent taxpayers.’

He does concede, however, that the Revenue ‘has had a brave stab’ at ushering in the self-assessment regime, especially since the complex tax system in place in this country has made progress an uphill struggle.

Howlett is not just a number cruncher, though, and can claim a more artistic string to his bow as a presenter. He has starred in an E&Y video offering advice to companies on what to do if they are visited by the Special Compliance Office.

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