Dishonest tax agents: The HMRC approach

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John Flood
Tax Author
Self Employed
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HMRC has now released a note setting out its approach to dishonest conduct by tax agents, together with links to the technical guidance contained at Chapter 180000 of the Compliance Handbook and operational and process guidance at Chapter 880000.

Retired barrister John Flood explains that from 1 April dishonest conduct by tax agents becomes liable to civil penalties.

In my earlier article, Dishonest Agents: Trouble AheadI set out the legal framework for the new regime as does HMRC now in its note. They have however...

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08th Apr 2013 16:01

The Right to a fair Trial?

Can someone please explain.

If you are accused of a criminal offence then under European Human Rights you have the right to a fair trial.

Under normal tax investigations the civil route/settlement is accepted in exchange for HMRC not prosecuting and all is normally well.

However If you believe you are innocent then the stakes are much higher for an agent who would want to prove his/her innocence so you would want to take advantage of the safeguards of a full Jury Trial and the full burden of proof?

Presumably you can refuse the civil route as you could by not agreeing settlement in a tax investigation?

My second question refers to a the article above: When can they not prosecute? I hope this is not where they don't have enough evidence?

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09th Apr 2013 22:03

Can you tell me what it is that HMRC know about anything

Having sacked all the hired help since 1980, the Revenue is now strutting its stuff like a fire breathing monster telling us that it can now sort out dishonest agents. How about dishonest Directors of the Revenue, who would forgive Vodaphone £5BN of avoided taxation?

If they have proof of dishonesty or think that they can uncover intention of dishonesty then they should prove it to the criminal standard and not pussy[***] about with balance of probabilities.The fact that they are messing about means that they have not got anything and this is just a fake exercise in trying to persuade a few rogue agents not to let their sub-contractors claim money back.

Instead of coming out with this garbage, the Revenue would be better organising itself back into a half decent department, instead of coming out with pontificating gibberish which they have no hope of implementing. Another case of the dog which continues not to bark in the night.


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10th Apr 2013 12:43

I dislike this

It's a one way street.  HMRC can now choose any agent that gets under their skin and threaten them with this penalty if they don't bend over.

On the other hand HMRC can go fishing, waste everybody's time and money and there is no comeback at all on serial offenders from HMRC (apart from promotion for them..).

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10th Apr 2013 15:48

They are unlikely to use these rules anyway?

Like most of this draconian legislation e.g. MLR it is not used, and only the compliant will comply.

What it does confirm is that the criminals have a get out of jail free card and HMRC does not take agent dishonesty or tax fraud seriously, demonstrated by their lack of willingness to prosecute anyone.

Most HMRC employees would not recognise a tax fraud even if it slapped them in the face.



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