ICAS calls for regulation of tax advisers ahead of mini-Budget 2022
ICAS is calling for regulation of tax advisers to protect taxpayers, ahead of tomorrow’s mini-Budget 2022.
As outlined in its response to a recent HMRC consultation, ICAS believes that all tax agents should be qualified and required to belong to a professional body, to address the increasing number of problems experienced by consumers using repayment agents to claim tax refunds on their behalf, and other issues in the tax advice market.
This could take time to implement, so ICAS is also calling for HMRC’s standard for agents to be rigorously enforced and to be expanded in the meantime, so that it more closely matches the standards professional body members are already required to meet.
ICAS believes that repayment agents should be treated in the same way as other agents, and be required to formally register with HMRC and be authorised by their clients with HMRC before they can submit claims.
Susan Cattell, ICAS Head of Tax Technical Policy, said: “Whilst repayment agents can provide a useful service to taxpayers supporting them to make claims for repayment of tax, many repayment agents do not belong to a professional body. ICAS believes that in the long term, the only fully effective way to protect consumers (those claiming repayments but also those using agents to deal with HMRC more generally), would be to introduce a requirement that everyone acting as a tax agent should be qualified, and should belong to one of the main professional bodies that subscribe to, and enforce Professional Conduct in relation to Taxation.
“As our consultation response sets out, agents who do belong to these professional bodies are required to maintain their technical competence and to adhere to high professional standards. This precludes the types of poor behaviour that produce the problems highlighted in the consultation.
“Mandatory membership of a professional body could take some time to implement in full, and might require a transitional period but it is difficult to envisage any other way to ensure that all tax agents comply with minimum standards of behaviour.”