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Personal Tax Advisors - Professional requirements

My partner is interested in setting up as a personal tax advisor. She would like to offer tax advice and completion of self-assessment tax returns. Will she need to become qualified or licenced in the same way as an accountant would, or is tax advise not regulated in the same way? She is an AAT qualified accountant, currently working in a tax department of a local practice.

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By pauld
25th Jan 2012 13:31

No regulations

There is no requirement to become tax qualified.  With the AAT qualification and the fact that she is gaining experience in a tax department will stand her in good stead for dealing with 90% of self assessment tax returns for the self employed. Company tax can be a bit more challenging as there are usually alot more tax issues involved e.g. benefits, payroll, overdrawn loan accounts, but again you dont need a tax qualification, although it helps.

I would receommend she now studies for the ATT. With both the AAT and ATT and a couple of years practical experience under her belt, bob's your uncle and the sky's the limit !

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25th Jan 2012 13:59

Tax advisors requirements

The topic of qualified vs unqualified practitioners has been well exhausted on here so I won't go into that apart from to point out that your supposition that an accountant or tax advisor needs to be qualified is wrong. There is currently no requirement to be qualified unless a restricted service (such as audit or regulated financial services) are being offered.

Now that part is out of the way you need to ask why your partner qualified as an AAT accountant in the first place. Possibly it was because she wanted to make sure that she knew what was needed to do the job? Possibly it helped her get work? The same question needs to be asked if she is setting herself up as a personal tax advisor. Does she have the experience through her work in the local practice to be able to give proper tax advice or is it really an add-on to the annual accounting function?

An accountant is a generic term, like a medical doctor, but, like doctors, some accountants specialise in certain areas such as tax, audit, charity work, etc. Equally some accountants (in particular sole practitioners) become the general practitioners of the accounting world, assisting with the compliance requirements of individuals and smaller companies. Not everyone would call themselves a tax specialists though they would most usually prepare self assessment and corporation tax returns as part of their normal accountancy service. In my opinion calling herself a personal tax advisor raises the client expectations over that of a GP accountant.

If she calls herself a small business accountant (which with her AAT qualification she should be able to do) she can then extend the preparation of the accounts into the preparation of the necessary tax returns. It will also allow her to limit the kind of tax work that she does to the areas where she feels most comfortable.

A long answer and hopefully not too opinionated. If it is I am sure others will disagree.

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ccaspell

ccaspell wrote:

A long answer and hopefully not too opinionated. If it is I am sure others will disagree.

 

Very fair and good explanation.

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26th Jan 2012 12:24

practising certificate

Since she's AAT qualified, she will need to obtain an AAT practising certificate before she can do this, and be supervised by the AAT (or HMRC) for AML. If she doesn't want to (or can't) get an AAT practising certificate, she'll need to resign from the AAT. (She'd still need AML supervision from HMRC).

It is worth pointing out that the AAT qualification does not contain any compulsory tax modules, so it is perfectly possible to be AAT qualified without ever having seen a tax return. (There are optional modules in Personal and Corporate tax, at a level that is suitable for 80% of taxpayers. The problem is, it frequently doesn't give the knowledge to know when something falls in the 20%. However, the OP mentioned that she has experience in a tax department. Depending on what's involved, this could be enough.

As Pauld mentioned above, it is well worth doing the ATT qualification, particularly papers 1 and 3. I belive the is an exemption from paper 2 based on the AAT qualification if the AAT tax papers were sat.

PI Insurance is a must. Also worth subscribing to CCH for tax-advise etc. We get it free with our insurance.

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30th Jan 2012 10:18

AAT/CIMA

I studied AAT and then went on to complete CIMA and have never sat a tax paper, I actually don't think I have ever had a lesson on personal tax and only really know the basics of business tax.  I am constantly asked to do tax returns by friends who have their own business, or offer advice and they all seem a little confused when I try to explain this to them!

Maybe this is something I should be looking into for CPD....

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30th Jan 2012 16:00

Personal Tax Advisor

The posting by aiwalters is correct in that, to practise under AAT, the op's partner should obtain a licence to practise as an AAT Member in Practice. There is a lot of comprehensive advice on the AAT website and an application form. The MIP would then be supervised for AML purposes by the AAT.

AATs Vice President, Henry Cooper, runs MIP sessions which are extremely useful. He is an MIP and is full of helpful advice.

There is also an opportunity to obtain very inexpensive and comprehensive Professional Indemnity Insurance, which is a requirement under AATs MIP rules.

Sally Cox FMAAT, ATT

Member of AAT Council

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25th Mar 2012 11:35

ATT MIP

As an AAT member you have to be registered under their MIP scheme to be self employed does the same apply to an ATT member?

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