Convention ‘changes nothing’

The Attorney General has denied his controversial February convention will compromise the confidentiality of taxpayer information – but leading accountants are still calling for a full and frank debate.

Several senior tax investigators last week expressed concern about the convention which aims to improve the co-ordination between prosecuting authorities such as the Inland Revenue, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Serious Fraud Office.

They feel it makes it almost impossible to declare information to the Revenue because of the risk of information being passed to other departments.

The Attorney General’s office this week wrote to Accountancy Age, stating disclosure of material between prosecuting authorities will still be ‘subject to any legal constraints’.

A spokesman said the convention ‘did not affect the position of individuals who co-operate with the Revenue on the basis of the “Hansard Practice”‘, which guarantees discretion for those making settlements with the Revenue.

But John Gwyer, tax investigations director at Levy Gee, said he would pursue the matter. ‘The press release which accompanied the announcement of the convention gave no real idea what it was about.

‘Maybe they didn’t mean to jeopardise accountants’ relationship with the Revenue – they may not have seen the implications of what they were doing – but they know now, and it is important to debate the whole thing,’ said Gwyer.

Opinion, page 12.

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