More tax avoidance disclosures to be made to institutes – HMRC

MORE PRACTITIONERS are likely to face disciplinary action from their institutes over advising on tax avoidance schemes after HM Revenue & Customs confirmed to Accountancy Age it is to “significantly increase” the number of disclosures it makes to professional bodies.

Last week, it was revealed the ICAEW has yet to discipline any members for advising or placing clients in aggressive and contrived tax schemes, despite setting a strong stance against such behaviour three years ago.

In 2012, the ICAEW announced members advising on schemes that could be interpreted as aggressive could be held to be bringing the profession into disrepute.

And while the institute is “currently looking at a few cases with regard to tax advice”, none have yet resulted in disciplinary proceedings being brought against a member.

The institute can only investigate members if a complaint is made, for example from HMRC, or there is sufficient evidence in the public domain to justify an investigation.

To date, HMRC has passed the ICAEW “little information that we have been able to act on”, an institute spokeswoman said in a statement to Accountancy Age.

But the taxman has today told Accountancy Age it “expects to significantly increase the number of disclosures made in the future”.

An HMRC spokesman said: “As part of the paper Tackling tax evasion and avoidance, published on 19 March, the government is asking the tax and accountancy professional bodies to take a greater lead and responsibility in setting and enforcing clear professional standards around the facilitation and promotion of avoidance.

“HMRC has made public interest disclosures to ICAEW in the past, where the behaviour of members appears to fall short of the expected professional and ethical standards. HMRC expects to significantly increase the number of disclosures made in the future and will be working closely with ICAEW and other professional bodies on this.”

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