HMRC to ‘visit’ up to 90 tax advisers

The move is the next stage in the revenue’s Tax Agent Strategy programme which aims to establish a framework for how tax agents, which are appointed by individuals or companies to deal with their tax matters, interact with HMRC and to raise standards, reports The Advisor.

As part of this process, and following a consultation completed last year, HMRC said it now plans to visit 80 to 90 tax agents for which it said client filing or payment rates are “significantly below those of similar agents to explore what might be done differently”.

While it is a reasonable assumption that HMRC is concerned the tax agents it is planning to visit are doing something below board, the revenue said it “would like to reassure agents that any statistical data that appears to be unusual does not automatically mean that they think the agent is performing badly”.

Karen Clark, partner at Baker Tilly’s private client group, suggests the plans could represent an attempt by HMRC to begin regulating tax agents.

“While we welcome attempts to improve the way agents and HMRC work together and to ensure that agents are properly trained and qualified to represent taxpayers, the latter should not be the role of HMRC,” said Clark.

“Any further regulation of the tax agent community is likely to be better provided by the existing tax professional bodies such as the Chartered Institute of Taxation and the Association of Tax Technicians and/or an independent board.”