Advisor registration must have independent oversight, says CIoT

ANY MOVES to introduce a registration scheme for tax advisors should include an independent body to oversee removals from the register, the Chartered Institution of Taxation has said.

HM Revenue & Customs released its tax agent strategy consultation document yesterday, which advocated the use of a self-serve system. This will allow enrolled advisors to use HMRC systems to update their clients’ details and issue PAYE coding among other clerical tasks, saving time and costs.

The consultation does not give any concrete proposals about who should be enrolled and therefore have access to the self-serve functions. It suggests that self-regulation of the profession should continue but that there should be minimum standards that advisors must adhere to if they are to stay on the register.

Anthony Thomas, president of the CIoT said: “Any system of enrolment, and inevitably disenrollment, of tax agents must be overseen by an independent body. While we are very much with HMRC on wanting to get the highest standards among tax professionals, HMRC cannot be permitted to be prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner when someone’s livelihood is potentially at stake.”

Stephen Herring, a partner at BDO, said it is a “reasonable model that HMRC polices a minimum level of performance”. However, he added: “Anything above that must be self-governed. You would not want the Revenue saying ‘that agent is pushing a line too far, we will mark him down’.”

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