Profile: Partners in tax.

Nobody will be able to accuse Richard Mannion, president of the Chartered Institute of Taxation, of being put in place to do a holding job.

Indeed, when he starts to reel off the projects that will be on the move during his two-year tenure at the helm of the 11,000-member organisation, it becomes clear he has taken up his post with his eye clearly on the future.

Here’s a taster of what is on the agenda: A #50,000 feasibility study to investigate the installation of an integrated computer system offering all manner of services to members; a market research project to see whether there is demand for a new international institute of taxation; the introduction of a new exam paper on international tax; two consultants working flat out on reviewing the institute’s exams and Mannion’s own pet project of bringing Inland Revenue officials together with professional tax advisers to bring about ‘a smoother running tax system’.

And while he’s overseeing all this, he is still dealing with clients at his Bristol-based firm.

‘You have to be well organised,’ he says.

Mannion became a member of CIoT in 1971. He is also a chartered accountant, qualifying in 1980, but his first taste of professional life was with the Revenue, which he hated.

‘I kept asking why,’ he says, explaining the reason he and the Revenue did not, at first, see eye to eye.

A return to Bristol to join Soloman Hare followed in 1972 and Mannion has been with the firm even since – becoming a partner and head of tax.

‘They sponsored me to become a chartered accountant and gave me a partnership. They put faith in me and I’ve always felt I should put something back.’

The firm is number 23 in the country and Mannion specialises in tax advice for small businesses. This, he says, is because you can develop a closer relationship with the client, and give advice that touches their lives. Something he feels cannot be done at a larger firm. Indeed, he says he doubts he could fit into a Big Five outfit.

The issues he will be judged on at the CIoT will be all those projects.

And when Mannion gets started he reveals passion for the subject.

The institute is preparing to spend half a million pounds on a new computer system for its growing list of members. ‘The biggest place to start is our electronic strategy and how we communicate with our members, what they want from us and how it can be delivered in the next five to 10 years,’ he says.

The future is also the main driver behind looking at the possibility of a new international institute.

‘The Big Five say their main concern is globalisation. We asked what CIoT is going to do about that and so we are spending money on market research.’

If the results show some demand for an international body, CIoT will seek partners. Bringing the Revenue and tax advisers together also indicates Mannion’s belief in improvements through partnership.

The Working Together project intends to join the two sides of taxation – the Revenue and advisers – to solve problems and overcome the ‘frustration’ and ‘conflict’ between them. It is a novel approach and Mannion will need all his energy to keep it together.


Richard Mannion, appointed CIoT president in May, believes the problems between the Inland Revenue and tax advisers stem from the introduction of self-assessment.

During the launch of the new system professional advisers and Revenue officials co-operated closely. But then, Mannion believes, the taxman stepped back without realising that problems were still to emerge. When they did, it created frustration between the Revenue and the professional advisers advising their clients.

What was crucial, Mannion says, was that the Revenue appeared to have no way of communicating the problems to anyone who could do something about it.

The Working Together project is intended to put that right. It will bring together advisers with Revenue officials to identify problems and possible solutions. ‘There’s a sea-change happening at the Revenue, a complete repositioning,’ says Mannion.

‘Before they were policing the system. Now their view is that they are here to educate and assist. That’s their first role now.’

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