Announcements don’t go far enough to protect the public says ATT

28 April, 2023

The Association of Taxation Technicians (ATT) has welcomed new requirements for repayment agents to register with HMRC1 before they can file claims on behalf of taxpayers but says more needs to be done to protect the public from tax agents who are not members of professional bodies. 

The Government confirmed that businesses which specialise in making repayment claims will need an Agent Services Account (ASA) to file such claims on behalf of their clients from 2 August 2023.

While this will give HMRC greater scrutiny over repayment agents,2 the ATT has warned of the risk posed by some of those who are not affiliated to professional bodies, and therefore not subject to the stricter professional standards and requirements these bodies require. This includes adherence to the Professional Conduction in Relation to Taxation (PCRT) rules, undertaking anti-money laundering checks and holding appropriate insurance. 

Senga Prior, Chair of the ATT Technical Steering Group, said: 

“A common misconception amongst the public is that providing tax services such as assisting with repayment claims is a regulated activity akin to other professional services such as most legal and financial services, but this is not the case. 

“As long as activities relating to taxation can be undertaken by anyone who chooses to do so and without any kind of effective regulation, there will always be the opportunity for some engaged in those activities to do so with scant regard for customer protection. 

“More work is needed in this area to provide the public with the assurances and confidence it needs. We would encourage HMRC to press forward with the promised publication of a fuller consultation on options to improve the wider regulatory framework that supports standards in tax advice, in a way that fulfils the three criteria of clarity, transparency and enforcement.” 

Notes for editors:

  1. Check if you need an agent services account to submit repayment claims - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

  2. HMRC standard for agents - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)