If a system of registration of tax agents is introduced by the Government it must be overseen by an independent body, says the President of the Association of Taxation Technicians (ATT).
The proposal for registration of tax agents – termed ‘enrolment’ – is included in a consultation document ('Establishing the future relationship between the tax agent community and HMRC') published today.
Simon Braidley, ATT President, said:
“The ATT supports efforts to drive up standards within the tax profession and make it easier for good tax agents to do their job. A facility that grants access to HMRC systems to professional tax agents has the potential to achieve both of these objectives.
“We welcome HMRC’s acknowledgement in the consultation paper that they have been delivering a poor level of service to agents in many areas and that this needs to improve. HMRC’s timetable for the full implementation of the agent strategy is in the region of five to ten years. In the interim period it is essential that HMRC raise their standards, so that when the agent strategy facilities are on stream these are the icing on the cake for agents and not the cake itself.”
Commenting on the news that HMRC will be undertaking a separate consultation over the summer on changes to legislation to strengthen HMRC’s ability to deal with dishonest tax agents, Simon Braidley said:
“When HMRC refuse to deal with a tax agent, they are significantly affecting that agent’s livelihood. If this process is to be formalised into a system for registration and deregistration of agents, it makes it even more crucial that the process is overseen by an independent body. It is unacceptable for HMRC to be policeman, prosecuting counsel and judge, dispensing summary justice without independent oversight. An independent body should review all refusals to register or requests by HMRC to de-register an agent.”