Dishonest advisors to be named and shamed

TAX ADVISORS who are involved in dishonest activities will be named and shamed and face a civil penalty under proposals by HM Revenue & Customs released today.

Its latest consultation on “Working with tax agents: dishonest conduct” said that there will be a civil penalty on dishonest tax advisors and a power allowing HMRC to publish details on its website where the advisor does not make a full disclosure. HMRC will also issue “dishonest conduct notices”, which can be appealed by the advisor.

The taxman admitted that its interpretation of the draft legislation in early 2010 “was at odds with that of the vast majority of tax professionals and practitioners”. However, it made substantial changes to the original proposals, by firming its definition of tax agents to exclude people giving casual unprofessional advice, ensuring that only illegitimate loss of tax would be penalized as opposed to ISAs and a right to appeal to advisors.

Dave Hartnett, permanent secretary for tax (pictured), said:”HMRC has worked closely with the representative bodies to develop draft legislation which provides a fair, balanced and proportionate response.”

Anthony Thomas, president of CIoT, said HMRC should be praised for “listening and going back to the drawing board to completely start again”.

“I will still query whether legislation is needed and whether the timing is right given we are discussing the tax agent strategy that will no doubt feed into it,” he added. “We share HMRC’s desire to track the rogue agent. HMRC have had tremendous sense to listen to what all the professional bodies have said.”

Chas Roy-Chowdhury, head of tax at ACCA, said: “HMRC has clearly taken on board concerns we had, such as excluding the man in the pub talking about tax. They are focusing on the agents who make mass repayment claims.

“The original proposals were all embracing. But it is far more workable,” he added

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