The Working with Tax Agents consultation paper has raised the idea of
penalising those who fail to take reasonable care in dealing with tax affairs
and has created concerns over how it will be implemented.
There are a tiny proportion of ‘incompetent’ advisers in the UK, deliberate
or otherwise. Anecdotal evidence suggests the figure could be less than 2% of
While action must be taken in stamping out blatant and deliberate abuse,
quantifying what constitutes unreasonable care requires considerable
consultation. It’s not a phrase that lends itself to clarity.
One factor muddying the water is the complexity of the UK tax system, which
demands more time than ever keeping up with regulatory and compliance changes.
HM Revenue & Customs will need to establish a body of evidence against an
adviser which conclusively demonstrates they have breached professional
protocol, subsequently resulting in sanctions being imposed.
But even experienced, highly skilled tax advisers are not immune from making
the odd mistake and benefit of the doubt must be employed in weeding out the
Judith Tydd is a reporter on Accountancy Age
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