New Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) president Anthony Thomas started his term of office last week with a hard-hitting speech that took HMRC to task for failing to maintain standards - and trust - in its dealings with tax professionals.
“A fair tax system requires respect on both sides. HMRC are at risk of damaging the trust that has been built up over centuries between tax payers and tax collectors,” he said.
HMRC has undermined respect and trust among taxpayers and advisers in recent years with an array of unsatisfactory behaviours...
Relations with tax advisers have suffered similar damage. The CIOT president added that HMRC managers are happy to work closely with the profession and rely on their expert advice when it suits them, yet ignore sensible suggestions.
The supposed “special relationship” that exists between HMRC and tax advisers is like the one between the US and UK governments, he added: “It always favours one side, and that side is not ours.”
For his year in office, Thomas said his mission would be to try to turn the tide and get relations back on an even keel. He would fight any attempt by HMRC to impinge on the relationship between client and tax agent and urged the department to get its own house in order before attempting to roll out a registration and disciplinary mechanism for tax advisers.
Striking a constructive note, Thomas said the CIOT would take the opportunity to try and re-establish trust around the agent relationship consultation process that is due to start up again shortly.
“My hope is that by this time next year we will have been successful in starting to remove some of the danger… inherent in an aggressive tax authority with overbearing powers,” he said.