Government consultations – still time to have your say
Details of three important consultations affecting accountants.
The deadlines for responses to many of the government’s consultations/calls for evidence have been revised - reflecting the simple fact that individuals, businesses and professional bodies have been otherwise engaged recently!
Here, we highlight three you may wish to respond to.
It asks for views and evidence on several issues under the following headings:
the scope of the market for tax advice and services
the characteristics of good and bad practice
current government interventions
possible approaches to raising standards.
The paper draws on PCRT and highlights that the government is seeking the following from any intervention in the market:
‘market transparency, so that taxpayers have the information they need to choose an adviser that meets their need, and are able to steer clear of unsuitable providers
that customers who want to engage a tax adviser are able to access reliable advice from an appropriately competent professional who maintains high ethical standards
[that] market access is preserved so that customer can continue to get reliable advice should they wish to
to enhance tax compliance.’
There is also positive recognition of the work accountants/agents do, with the paper stating that ‘Many agents adhere to the high ethical standards outlined in the Professional Conduct in Relation to Taxation (PCRT), developed by seven professional bodies'.
It goes on to highlight that ‘HMRC has long recognised the value of good tax advisers in helping their clients to get their tax affairs right’ and that ‘good advisers are vital to an efficient tax system. They help customers to:
keep good tax records, either through keeping those records themselves or providing guidance on suitable systems and processes
carry out tax calculations
file returns and organise payments.’
A key question being asked is ‘What more could the government do to promote the work of good advisers?’
One of the discussion paper points highlights that 'Recognising the good work that many professional bodies do to maintain standards, one option which would meet the objectives for reform would be to introduce a legal requirement for anyone who want to provide tax advice on a commercial basis to belong to a recognised professional body'. Another suggestion is that 'Advisers could be required to satisfy a fit and proper person test in order to register, and this test could include provisions such as:
possessing relevant qualifications or length of professional practice
having professional indemnity insurance
being registered for AML supervision
not having been subject to a penalty for promoting or enabling tax avoidance
up to date with their own tax affairs
up to date with responsibilities as a company director ie was not an undischarged bankrupt or a disqualified director
not having been expelled by a professional body for misconduct.'
Do have a look at the document and please do send in your thoughts to ACCA by the end of July to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject headline ‘Call for evidence: raising standards in the tax advice market’.
Tackling Construction Industry Scheme Abuse is open for comment until 28 August with the planned introduction from April 2021. It includes the explanation of a new power which would allow ‘HMRC to correct the CIS deduction amounts claimed by sub-contractors on their Real Time Information (RTI) Employer Payment Summary (EPS) returns’ and it seeks views on implementation.
Preventing abuse of the R&D tax relief for SMEs: second consultation is open for comment until 28 August. It is a consultation on the delayed introduction of the PAYE cap that was announced as part of the Budget 2020. In the Budget, it was announced that the introduction of the cap would be delayed until 1 April 2021 to allow for further consultation. It’s highlighted that ‘the PAYE cap will include a minimum threshold of £20,000. For payment claims below £20,000 the PAYE cap will not apply.’ The areas being considered as part of this consultation are the role of Externally Provided Workers and Managing R&D.