The world of tax is once again in the headlines and this time it’s the
advisers who are under the cosh.
The NAO drew up some recommendations for HMRC – still smarting from criticism
after the PAYE scandal – to work better with tax advisers, but ended up putting
the boot in to the profession.
The reaction from the broadsheets was mixed.
Guardian took up the NAO’s line.
“Taxpayers who have paid for professional help get their tax return wrong
more often than those without an accountant, according to a study by the
government’s National Audit Office.”
“Billions of pounds of tax go unpaid as a result of errors and evasion by
individuals who get specialist help to prepare their tax returns, according to a
National Audit Office report, sparking a furious reaction from professional
advisers,” the FT said
Chas Roy-Chowdhury, head of tax at the Association of Chartered Certified
Accountants, told the FT the NAO’s report was “half baked”.
Public Service UK, the public sector title,
on the NAO’s £100m estimate for a 3% reduction in tax errors.
The NAO said that HMRC could increase tax revenues by ” providing better
support” to tax agents, including targeting the not so good ones.
“A 3% reduction in the average amount of tax under-declared by represented
taxpayers could lead to over £100m extra revenue per year.”
Tax advisers remain unequivocal on the issue.
Alan Boby, partner at Ellacotts, and member of the UK200 Group of accountants
“In the end, it seems to me that a sample of 5,000 cases is not sufficient to
draw definite conclusions on the millions of tax returns filed each year.
“I also think the last five years have seen dramatic change with the UK tax
system, tax advisers and HM Revenue & Customs.”
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