‘Gamekeeper-turned-poachers’ undermining HMRC, study finds

REFORMS to HM Revenue & Customs has created a ‘glut of gamekeeper-turned-poacher’ tax experts who pose a threat to the professional value of accountants, research has found.

A study by Warwick Business School and the University of Birmingham found that individuals who leave HMRC for the private sector are ideally placed to exploit new management reforms to help companies avoid tax and undermine the tax profession.

The research, which looked at how the HMRC had been reformed from 2003 to 2012, found that although many HMRC employees embraced wide reforms and took on ‘hybrid’ managerial roles, a number of experienced staff members jumped ship and turned towards the private sector.

Professor Graeme Currie of Warwick Business School said former HMRC employees could cause major problems to the tax department due to their “inside” knowledge.

“These gamekeepers-turned-poachers could compound the impact of a policy shift because they are best placed to capitalise on any changes to the agency’s focus. As former insiders they are ‘canny customers’, he said. 

“We also suggest that, as in the case of accountants, professional values of independence and public service in the tax profession may over time be eroded by the increasing movement of tax professionals from HMRC into more commercially-orientated corporate clients, at the same time as frontline interactions across the regulator-regulatee divide shape service.”

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