Regulation - a suggested protocol
We seem to have reached a consensus that an independent regulator would be a less bad option than being regulated by HMRC. We have two good suggestions about how this might work, reproduced here :
From CD :
- ALL existing agents should be registered without question.
- There should be NO fees involved.
- If HMRC feel that an agent isnt up to standard (whether qualified or QBE) they should put their case together with evidence in support to an independent body.
- The "accused" should them have full access to the file, and the right to require any further reasonable information he/she requires - then prepare a "defence".
- Whether HMRCs claims are upheld or not should themn be for the independent tribunal to decide either on the papers submitted, or, at the "defendants" discretion, at an oral hearing.
- The tribunal then has the power to remove the accused from the agent list, or order additional training, or indeed find the case unproven and award damages against HMRC for distress caused.
- This should be totally independant of HMRC and the institutes - but - should be binding on both.
- When a case is refered to the tribunal, until such time as the agent is removed from the list (if indeed they are) HMRC must either continue to accept accounts submitted without prejudice, or, pay a weeky set fee of, say, £500 a week to the agent for loss of earnings until such time as the case is heard.
This would ensure that innocent agents dont suffer unduly, and, should ensure that HMRC dont put frivolous cases before the tribunal.
Separately, but not necessarily opposed to CD, OGA has offered :
The point is ... you got that bit of paper for a reason 30 - 40 years ago and that got you in a club. It is up to the club to ensure the members stay up to scratch or turf them out if they don't, not HMRC.
If HMRC decide on an agents list and accept the ACCA or ICA qualification ("the club" to keep it simple) makes you fit to be a tax agent, then all members of those clubs with the relevant certificates should be able to be agents. If HMRC has a problem with a particular agent HMRC should deal with the club not the members individually, and impose sanctions of the club if it doesn't keep its house in order. If the club investigate the member and decide they are competent, then tough on HMRC, they should not be able to dictate to the club who its members are.
What they do with those not in the club is a different matter, but it should be an independant body.
How about an afiliate scheme - the clubs had an ounce of enterprise they would set up such a scheme whereby for a fee they could assess a QBE agents files and grant them affiliate status, with may be a periodic check on files and a CPD and PII requirement - may be call them registered tax agents or similar.
Please would members now comment on the merits of regulation per se and the proposals above.