Significant changes made to ethical guidelines for members in respect of tax planning.
The PCRT bodies – ACCA, Association of Accounting Technicians, Association of Taxation Technicians, Chartered Institute of Taxation, Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland and Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners – have issued revised Professional Conduct in Relation to Taxation guidance.
Significant changes are being made to ethical guidelines for all members of PCRT bodies in respect of tax planning.
In particular the seven professional bodies which jointly issue Professional Conduct in Relation to Taxation (PCRT) have agreed that the factsheet (which will come into effect on 1 March 2017) will make clear that our members ‘must not create, encourage or promote tax planning arrangements or structures that (i) set out to achieve results that are contrary to the clear intention of Parliament in enacting relevant legislation, and/or (ii) are highly artificial or highly contrived and seek to exploit shortcomings within the relevant legislation'.
This is a significant development. PCRT has long set out professional and ethical standards which require more of our members than the letter of the law demands, and rightly so. We should be proud that we apply these higher standards to ourselves.
But this latest addition to our ethical guidelines goes further than previously, recognising that what it means to behave with integrity and professionalism in the context of tax planning has changed over time and that we must take account of this or else risk falling out of step with what is expected of us by the public and consequently forfeiting trust and respect.
We have also been asked to act in this area by the government. On 19 March 2015 Treasury ministers challenged the professional bodies to ‘take on a greater lead and responsibility in setting and enforcing clear professional standards around the facilitation and promotion of avoidance to protect the reputation of the tax and accountancy profession and to act for the greater public good’.
This was not a challenge we could lightly ignore even had we wished to.
The factsheet will replace Technical Factsheet 166 and is part of a regular update which incorporates legislative changes, case law and current views on conduct.