Role of professional bodies in the regulation of tax agents - a research study

Jun 04, 2019

HMRC recently published the outcome of research examining the role of the Professional Bodies, including this Institute, in the context of their regulation of tax agents in the UK.

The research report also examined the relationship with HMRC and comes at a time when HMRC are informally consulting with the Professional Bodies on potential options to regulate the UK tax agent market.

According to HMRC, errors arising from returns prepared by unaffiliated agents form a disproportionately high element of the UK tax gap and HMRC are seeking to address this.  The research report sets out that a third of tax agents in the UK are unaffiliated.

According to the report, aside apart from statutory regulation (for example, anti-money laundering supervision) the Professional Bodies did not consider that they formally ‘regulated’ their members” and are more in the space of providing ‘practice assurance’. However the report later sets out that “Overall, the profession considers that the system of self-regulation of members of professional bodies is working well.”

The Institute and NI Tax Committee’s overriding objective of its representations in this area is to ensure the Institute’s brand is both protected but also appropriately recognised by HMRC and is not devalued in any way. The Committee is also clear that the impact on regulation of our members should be minimal. Members will be updated on this project as it develops. Certainly one to watch!