Working with tax agents – what is it all about?

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Rebecca Benneyworth
Rebecca Benneyworth Training Consultants
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The second consultation from HMRC on powers in relation to tax agents runs for another three weeks or so, and there is just time for you to get involved if you have views you wish to express. responded to the original consultation held last April and will be making a response to the current consultation, so if you have views, do let us know and we will pass them on.

The consultation sets out the objectives of the current focus for HMRC. Simply put, HMRC’s intention is to ensure that… "More tax returns and claims are correct when submitted." (para 1.2). In more detail, the basis of what is viewed as a programme of work, rather than a single exercise is to see how the tax profession and HMRC can work together to ensure high standards of professionalis...

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08th Feb 2010 09:20


for all is fine, but with HMRC the idea of accountability among enquiry Officers is a joke. Until the range of serious problems within HMRC are resolved there should not be any extra power given to them. 

The whole area of complaints to HMRC need to be looked at, the only way I can see it being resolved is through a totally independent complaints body with legal authority/mandate to investigate and decide/award a resolution (without limit).  

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08th Feb 2010 11:25

Hear, hear

The crux of this matter is that measures to deal with failing agents must be proportionate.

The current criteria for a disclosure to a professional/regulatory body is that there must be misconduct, and disclosure must be in the public interest. HMRC's idea is to make disclosure for lesser offences. The problem is that it is all a matter of judgement and each case will turn on its merits. This will not work by "ticking a few boxes" (as the new taxpayer tax penalty system is supposed to operate) and we have to ensure that HMRC has in place a robust system of safeguards which for my money, should include an independent review of HMRC's evidence before any accusations are made.
As things stand, I believe that a Tribunal will have the final say on whether a regulatory body is contacted. However, the member must be given the safeguard of being able to attend the hearing, and appeal, before the regulatory body becomes involved.

HMRC is in dialogue with the professional bodies (who are all quite naturally concerned that sanctions must not be so onerous as to victimise and so deter members from membership). 

What of agents who are not members of professional/regulatory bodies?
I am extremely concerned at HMRC's plans for "civil sanctions" for this group of advisers. The definition of agent is very wide for these proposals so HMRC could start lobbing "sanctions" anyone from a valuer to a bookkeeper, including ex-HMRC officers who go into accountancy and tax.
What are the sanctions going to be for this group of agent? Will an ex-HMRC officer have a lower sanction than say, an unaffilated accountant who is qualified by experience? If we do not know what is planned, how can anyone judge whether the proposals are proportionate to the problem?
Again, a robust system of safeguards is needed here to protect the interests of this group of agents, and this should include the facility for a review by a body which is independent of HMRC.

Finally, HMRC does not know how many agents will be affected by all this. This seems to be a fine basis for a whole raft of new legislation!

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08th Feb 2010 12:46

Mutuality would be fair.

Surely if HMRC are going to be able to "report" members of a professional body to that professional body if HMRC believe that their standards have fallen below that which HMRC deems reasonable, then there should be some centralised body within HMRC to which members of a professional body can report HMRC officers that we believe have fallen below that which the members deem reasonable?

Without this mutuality, wayward officers will just use the treat of reporting as another tool in their armory. Yes, yes, I know that we will be assured that they won't, but of course they will.

No doubt HMRC will say that there is an existing complaints proceedure but we all know that it is pretty toothless when it comes to dealing with wayward and errant officers.

If the aim of HMRC is to try and drive up agents' standards then surely we have the corresponding need to drive up HMRC's standards. I think we all agree that they need driving up asap!

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08th Feb 2010 13:31

More penalties for members?

In theory I'm happy that tax agents should be monitored by HMRC to ensure that we meet adequate standards. Our clients should know that they're getting a good deal.

I'm also pleased to hear that it will be reciprocal with complaints about HMRC officers also permissible.

I can't help feeling that this further penalises qualified accountants who have worked hard to pass exams, comply with practice assurance requirements, CPD, PII and can also be disciplined. None of this is applicable to Joe Bloggs who sets himself up as a 'tax agent' or 'accountant' with none of the above (although I realise that there are good and bad in both groups). I'd be interested to hear what penalties will be imposed on those agents not belonging to professional bodies.

Perhaps there should be some 'qualification' to become a tax agent in future?

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By Old Greying Accountant
08th Feb 2010 14:02

May be tax agents should be suitably qualified...

... in the way auditors are.

As we all know the current system of audit monitoring is flawless and has ensured that multinational financial institutions need not be propped up by government following near fatal financial collapse shortly after the auditors have signed off a clean audit report!


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08th Feb 2010 14:56

Working with Tax Agents

I absolutely agree that there needs to be mutuality about this - a two way traffic regarding standards to ensure that the new and somewhat Draconian powers acquired by HMRC are not abused but are used effectively to protect the profession and the public from rogues and/or incompetents on either side of the equation.  An independent tribunal to deal with potential complaints about either an agent or a member of HMRC staff is, in my view, essential.  The system must not only be fair but be seen to be fair.  It is unfortunate that these powers are being sought and introduced at a time when confidence in the ability and open-handedness of HMRC staff is at an all time low.

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08th Feb 2010 17:05

Confused thinking

It is sometimes very difficult to know what HMRC are trying to acheive.

If HMRC think the problem is an agent - whether a member of a professional body or not - who is deliberately encouraging his clients to cheat HMRC those agents should be prosecuted. HMRC already have sufficient intelligence to identify those agents and powers to prosecute them and do not need new ones. But when was the last time HMRC prosecuted an agent and who within HMRC would you make a report to if you thought you had come across a dishonest agent?

If on the other hand HMRC think there are agents who are failing because of lack of knowledge or training that is a completely different matter. That would be better dealt with in a low key way with the agent's work monitored uintil it improves. As a last resort if there is no improvement or no realistic prospect of improvement the agent should be encouraged to give up practice in the area of work that is causing concern and should be encouraged to hand the work to someone more experienced. (i.e. exactly the type of thing District Inspectors were good at identifying and dealing with when they knew all the agent's on thier patch).

As others have noted we should also expect a better level of training and knowledge within HMRC and some clarity on what words mean. For example I currently hold a letter from HMRC arguing for penalties on the grounds that "negligence" and "carelessness" mean exactly the same thing.





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08th Feb 2010 17:05

An Excellent Idea

"An independent tribunal to deal with potential complaints about either an agent or a member of HMRC staff is, in my view, essential."

Perhaps a non-statutory body made up of working HMRC Inspectors and working Practioners with their deliberations and conclusions published in the professional press. I would have confidence in that and it would be very useful.

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08th Feb 2010 18:33

Negligence and carelessness


These are terms are treated as being the same. If you are careful and still make an error, that is an innocent mistake (0% penalties). If you are not careful and make a mistake it is negligence. 

Last time HMRC prosecuted an agent?
Well I got an email from it the other day to say that it had made successful raids on addresses around the country in relation to Missing Trader VAT fraud, and that also said that it was usings its powers under the 2000 Fraud Act and 2002 Proceeds of Crime Act.

What probably upset HMRC was the result when it attempted to prosecute Mercury Tax Group. To quote Pete Miller (who wrote up the cases in Taxation magazine), "...In one of these cases (R (on the application of Mercury Tax Group and another) v HMRC [2009] STC 743) the court found that HMRC had misrepresented the position to the Crown Court and in the later case (HMRC v Mercury Tax Group (SpC 737)) it was clear that part of HMRC's position was based on incomplete information having been supplied to their counsel..."

So, even the Tax Tribunal may not prove to be an effective safeguard for agents.

You have all been warned!

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08th Feb 2010 23:55

A balanced review

There was another review somewhere on the site a few days ago that attracted (encouraged) the normal red-neck responses but I can't for the life of me find it?  Thanks Rebecca for bringing it into more of a reality.

Anyway, to repeat myself repeat myself I was shocked to see that, in addition to about 30 representative bodies (incl AccWeb) there were just 29 (YES 29) responses from individuals to the first consultation.  Where did all the AccWeb huffing & puffing members go?

If so few people bothered to respond, what have HMRC to go on?  At best they'll think we don't give a monkeys and do whatever they want.

It seems that tax agents probably fall into 3 camps, firstly the majority who agree with HMRC, don't understand or don't give a monkeys, secondly those who go in guns blazing (Ian Paisleys) and thirdly those who take a balanced pragmatic view and are prepared to negotiate/persuade without guns (Nelson Mandelas).

From the responses on this site last summer and in the past week, I'd guess that at least 25 of the 29 responses fell into the second camp so, again, what sort of response is likely from HMRC?

HMRC's incompetence is important but not the point here and to go in with "our incompetents are fewer than yours" is not worth the effort.

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08th Feb 2010 23:56


Don't rely on an "independent body" to investigate. 

The CPS was intended to be independant - it isn't.

I have had considerable experience with the IPCC (and before that the PCA). The IPCC is supposed to be independant, it started with a fanfare about how it would maintain its independance and would not employ ex police officers. Now it's full of ex police officers and heavily biased in favour of the police.

As someone pointed out HMRC already have ample powers. The difference is, they are now seeking powers to act as judge & jury and deny the right to a fair trial.  In other words, just another example of the increasing lurch towards us becoming a pseudo-comminist state like East Germany once was.

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09th Feb 2010 00:09

Reds under the bed again?

CD, are you serious this time?

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09th Feb 2010 10:11

Power Mad

I could rant and rave all day however the main topic is "Do HMRC have the power to police agents" The simple answer is NO.

Tax payers are liable for their own returns. Directors for CT. It really is as simple as that.

If HMRC do take it upon themselves to start saying to agents "don't like this - malpractice" then all that will happen is agents will not seek authorisation but still do the work but advise the tax payer accordingly. So HMRC will deal with tax payers by correspondance and not agents.

From what I can gather there is no plan to treat qualified agents differently to unqualified agents.

Whatever happens its going to be a big mess, but with a bit of luck someone with a few bob will test the legality of what HMRC are trying to do and who knows we might have another "Arctic case"  

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09th Feb 2010 10:13

Totally serious.

Look around you - this government has given over 1,000 people the right to enter your home by force.

It is currently planning to remove the right to representation befor a magistrates court - in other words you are on your own and facing 6 months inside with no right to a solicitor (unless your rich enough to pay yourself).

We are the most spied on nation in the world. Face recognition software will soon allow the automatic tracking of every individual.

It has resurect plans to put a "spy in the cab" black box in every vehicle to track your movements, and your speed. Studies suggest that the average motorist will receive up to 50 speeding fines every week. Their "road charging" scheme could cost normal motorists u to £100 a week just for driving to work.

They have plans in place to take fingerprints and DNA from every child under 5.

A working group of labour MPs is in the process of invstigating the "cashless society" with interlinked tills. This means that EVERY transaction by everyone will be on a centralised computer system. 

So dont think for one second that this despicable government wont give tax officers sweeping draconian powers - it will.  


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09th Feb 2010 10:23

Oh dear!!

and this was such an interesting thread.

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09th Feb 2010 10:30

No Difference

Paul the reason why the "huffers and puffers" like myself do not contribute to these "consultations" is that it will not make any difference.

Mr Brown is determined to decide how much tax each tax payer will pay and nothing (apart from voting for another party) will change his thinking. 

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By Old Greying Accountant
09th Feb 2010 11:07

As Joni Mitchell said...

...Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone

They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot!


Personally I think this Government base their game plan on a mix of Orwell and Huxley.

It's a pity the reality is more Nero, with the emphasis on the fiddling!

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09th Feb 2010 11:27

This is going to increase the Taxation System more complicated t

Small Businesses are the back bone of the UK!!!  They need simplification and cost efficient Solutions!!!


Not Solutions that would increase their cost and choice!!!!


HMRC should sort out their one sided attitude towards the Tax Payers and treat them with respect they deserve!!!!  Always go after the bad ones that is different!!!

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09th Feb 2010 12:05

civil serpants

Perhaps it's time that HMRC, and indeed all civil serpants (not a typo) realised that WE, the taxpayers, pay their wages and they are there to serve US, not a bunch of self serving politicians.

Perhaps there should be a system where, if lets say 3 accountants all file complaints against a particular tax inspector, that inspector should be instantly fired.  After all, isnt that basically what they are suggesting happens to accountants? More than one "complaint" by HMRC and you are effectively out of business?

As for "consultations" - dont kid yourself that they take the slightest notice, they dont. All they do is add your name to their list of "known disidents".

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By Old Greying Accountant
09th Feb 2010 14:34

God it gets you down, haven't we better things to be doing

And one day we will die
And our ashes will fly
From the aeroplane over the sea
But for now we are young
Let us lay in the sun
And count every beautiful thing we can see

And when we meet on a cloud
I'll be laughing out loud
I'll be laughing with everyone I see
Can't believe
How strange it is to be anything at all


Apologies to Jeff Mangum


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09th Feb 2010 15:26

Joni Mitchell now your talking OGA

Just when I thought the thread was vanishing into a haze of hot air you rescued it.  She sang she'd "even kiss the Sunset Pig" but I think even she would have to close her eyes with some of this lot.

It's a consultation document, we are being asked for our opinion.  You can vent your spleens on here but I'd still suggest you are better off venting them to HMRC (although better to leave out the bits about restricting your driving speed or return of the Stasi eh?). 

As Rebecca points out it's only for agent status, which HMRC allow in the first place, it's not going to take your bows, arrows and guns away and for the vast majority it will not make a blind bit of difference.  Not necessarily because there are so many competent agents but that HMRC can't administer what they've got so how will they handle this as well?

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09th Feb 2010 16:09


Yes Paul we are giving our opinion.That is what these discussions are all about.

By the way it is not up to HMRC to "allow" agent status. It is up to the tax payer whether or not they want an agent to deal with matters on their behalf.

Unfortunately when these "consultation papers" appear everybody, quite rightly, thinks the worse. A "we will not be governed by Europe" statement springs to mind. We are in the second stage now and it does not matter how many staff HMRC have got they will push it through.

HMRC does not do what it says on the tin!!!!!!!!!!


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09th Feb 2010 16:31


Paul - some might view your contribution as "hot air" - or more likely - abject surrender.

I am at the point of retirement and will be leaving this once great country for somewhere that freedom is still a reality. Already have a house there and my pension is safe there out of McDoom's clutches.

However, when I see the direction that Britain is heading in - I despair. You may be so engrossed in your own tiny little world that you dont see it - but some of us, who have been around a long time and who, in our youth, fought for this country, can see where it is heading. A totalitarian state where freedom is a distant memory, and where neighbours spy on each other and secret police can destroy your life without explanation. 

Think I'm exagerating?  Tell me that in 2 years time when legal aid is finished, fines can be issued without any right of appeal, and council officials can enter your home at any time to ensure you are being "green".

The so called "consultation" by HMRC is a sick joke - your views mean nothing and will be ignored.

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By Old Greying Accountant
09th Feb 2010 17:03

Just because you're paranoid...

... doesn't mean their not out to get you!


Talking of good music, now thats a good song indeed

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09th Feb 2010 17:16

good music OGA

How does that song go again "tax mans taken all my dough"

or would you prefer "God bless Hookey street"

etc etc

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By Old Greying Accountant
09th Feb 2010 17:37

Prefer the Stones...

...Sympathy for the Devil!

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By Anonymous
09th Feb 2010 19:21

Regulation of Agents

Maybe I can refer you guys to the posts on requirement of a director to file a tax return, where it is made clear that HMRC are confused between their concept of their recommended practice, and the law. And they want to regulate us?

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09th Feb 2010 19:53


How about "devil in disguise" "oh yes you are" "oh no you're not". Yes you could make a good panto out of the consultation paper cos that's where it belongs.

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By Old Greying Accountant
09th Feb 2010 20:22

At the end of the day...

HMRC see agents as an inconvenience, they stop them using their gestapo interrogation techniques to entrap tax payers into making sworn confessions of the vast hoards of undeclared income they have amassed. The way they use leading questions and prompting you would think they would be happier if they could write the answers themselves so all the tax payer has to do is sign.

Puts me in mind of the Month Python witch sketch, if she sinks and drowns she's not a witch, if she floats she's a witch so burn her! 



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09th Feb 2010 21:38


Alas gone are the satirical days of Frostie and Co and where is Ben Elton hiding these days or has he been offered a peerage with a second home.

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By Anonymous
09th Feb 2010 21:51


"HMRC see agents as an inconvenience, they stop them using their gestapo interrogation techniques to entrap tax payers into making sworn confessions of the vast hoards of undeclared income they have amassed."

May I suggest you are a prat? If you had any sense of perspective, sense, or empathy then you would think more carefully about drawing glib and humourless comparisons with people who undertook some of the most demonic atrocities in the last 100 years. For your information gestapo interrogation methods included: repeated near drownings of a prisoner in a bathtub filled with ice-cold water; electric shocks by attaching wires to hands, feet, ears and genitalia; crushing a man's testicles in a special vice; securing a prisoner's wrists behind his back then hanging him by the arms causing shoulder dislocation; beatings with rubber nightsticks and cow-hide whips; and burning flesh with matches or a soldering iron.


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By Anonymous
09th Feb 2010 21:57

And just in case I wasn't clear how offensive those comments are

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09th Feb 2010 22:15


HMRC see agents as an inconvenience, they stop them using their gestapo interrogation techniques to entrap tax payers into making sworn confessions of the vast hoards of undeclared income they have amassed."


Posted by Anonymous on Tue, 09/02/2010 - 21:51



Someone seems to have taken your commonly used phrase too literally and obviously needs a humour transplant.  Or maybe they are just suffering from an afflicion of excessive political correctness.

For the information of that person, subjecting their victim to extreme stress and using the tactic of leting them anticipate what was to come was also a tactic developed and used by the gestapo - AND, is a tactic used by HMRC, as is threats of worse tro come if you dont confess. So, the above poster was in fact quite accurate in comparing their tactics to some of those used by the gestapo.  


Your underlying point about HMRC tactics is valid, and indeed I have seen interview notes prepared by Revenue officers which bear no resemblance at all to the conversation which actually took place. That is why we tape record ALL conversations with HMRC both interviews and telephone conversations.

It's amazing how often we have been able to prove that an officer has lied.  

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By Anonymous
09th Feb 2010 22:26

Stop, think... and kindly vacate AccountingWeb

No, it is entirely offensive to compare HMRC to a murderous bunch of thugs that slaughtered millions. Your defence of the glib comparison only serves to further demonstrate, as if we did already know it, how objectionable you are and why we would all be better off without you around. Frankly I hope you are banned from using AccountingWeb and will take your childish and pathetic rants to some dark corner of the internet where we never have to read them again.

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By Old Greying Accountant
09th Feb 2010 22:28

Bremner Bird and Mortimer have a fair go

And I'm sorry I haven't a clue still breathes, although more shallow without Humph

Punt and Dennis do their best and Mitchell and Webb have their moments too

Bring back spitting image I say, there are more than enough targets

I would feel truly sorry for the grass roots labour supporters who have had their party stolen from them, if it wasn't for he fact they voted for this miserable shower not once, not twice but three times. Nye Bevan must be turning in his grave!

Funny thing, I was listening to my Billy Bragg cd's the other day, that's not the funny bit, the humour is that those anti Thatcher/Tory lyrics could be levied as true and straight at the current encumbents whose cause he was so ready to lend his support - this was written in 1986 aimed at Thatcher, but it is just as valid now and I urge you al to listen

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By Old Greying Accountant
09th Feb 2010 22:51

I didn't expect the Spanish Inquistion

Watch this space...hopefully my metaphor wont become a literal comparrison (although I don't think Guatanamo Bay is far off), although I was alluding more to the psycholgical than physical techniques.

How many more David Kelly's does the future hold?

I'm with the Welsh Dragon, if things go unchecked it wont just be Argentina with "The Disappeared"

I jest not, but, black and gallows humour is what put the Great in Britain, what gave us our spine and stiff upper lip, and is what helped us triumph over adversity in the wars, sadly due to the PC brigade this is becoming unacceptable, at least in public.  Soon you wont be able to call a parking warden a "Little Hitler"

Personally, I think personal insults give far more need to be banned from AW than personal views and rants, especially when you know nothing of the writer of such comments. May be they've grown up and can enjoy a bit of adult banter without throwing a hissy fit.

Just as well I'm a big boy and can take it, quack quack as they say- and yes I probably am :)

As an adult and respectful person, if anonymous, or his family, has had personal grievious contact with the said organisation and my remarks have caused distress I offer my sincere apologies as such was not my intent.


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10th Feb 2010 01:04

Obsessive stalkers who seem to believe that THEY can dictate to
Stop, think... and kindly vacate AccountingWeb

No, it is entirely offensive to compare HMRC to a murderous bunch of thugs that slaughtered millions. Your defence of the glib comparison only serves to further demonstrate, as if we did already know it, how objectionable you are and why we would all be better off without you around. Frankly I hope you are banned from using AccountingWeb and will take your childish and pathetic rants to some dark corner of the internet where we never have to read them again.


Posted by Anonymous on Tue, 09/02/2010 - 22:26


The above is a truly offensive and unacceptable posting.

This is clearly the same "anonymous" poster who has previously made offesive inflamatory posts, and whose behaviour is clearly obsessive and inapropriate. It is indeed a sad reflection on the profession that this individual is allowed to inflict his ignorance on unsuspecting clients.

It is to be hoped that AWeb will take appropriate action regarding the above poster who clearly has a serious inferiority complex and great difficulty in comprehending commonly used phrasiology. Further, I did not make the original comment, merely commented upon the vitreolic and unprovoked attack launched by the above.

For the benefit of the above poster, I am very aware of the methods used by the gestapo - coming as I do from a military family, but, I am not so infantile that I took the other posters referenceto "gestapo tactics" to mean anything other than that terms generally accepted modern day meaning of "heavy handed".

Further, just to set the record straight, I served in the Army when I first left school, just as my father did, and my grandfather. Further my uncle died as a result of the torture he was subjected to as a Japanese POW, but I still buy Nikon cameras. 

Just a final thought for Mr anonymous - another uncle of mine (from the German part of the family) won the Iron Cross during WW11 for outstanding bravery.  I suppose Mr Anonymous thinks I should shun that side of my family, and a very brave and honourable soldier who fought bravely for HIS country, just as my father fought for Britain? 

Perhaps if Mr Anonymous had any knowlege of warfare, or of WW11 other than silly films he has seen,  or indeed had any military knowledge, which he clearly doesnt, he might make more sensible comments.  




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10th Feb 2010 09:29

Your comments are duly noted by AWEB

I thought I should hop on here and outline my thoughts about this particular thread.  First of all, I will not be editing or deleting any of the above posts at this point in time - you ALL have a right to express your views and to disagree with each other, and so far I see nothing above that warrants any action from me, least of all any banning of members.  I will however gently remind you all to play nicely please.

The anonymous poster has a right to express their opinion, and has done so fairly and accurately, although it should be noted that calling someone a 'prat' was possibly a step too far but let's face it, other members have taken their views much further before.

CD - you then come on and make a valid and fair counterpoint.

Thanks go now to OGA who at least tries to restore some normality, and also for having the compassion, understanding and decency for apologising for any offence he may have caused - I favour this approach, obviously, to me having to step in and slap wrists.

CD - unfortunately you seem to descend into the 'humour loss' that you earlier accuse another member of; try to retain some perspective.

We value all contributions from all members and hope that you can sort disagreements out amongst yourselves.  We are all different and have differing views, please respect this, it is what makes the world such a wonderful place.  In light of recent accusations from members about censorship, I am taking a more light-hearted view to what I remove from the site, and as such, and for the reasons I have outlined here, no action will be taken on this thread.  However, this does not give anyone licence to go mental now, so please take my suggestions on board and try to appreciate the wealth and beauty of diversity.

Let's all try and have a pleasant rest of the week; there are bigger things going on in the world to fight for and be passionate about.

With thanks in advance,

Your community manager

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10th Feb 2010 09:48


It does appear that the PC brigade are getting through to some people which is a shame.

British humour has always been "cutting edge" (if there is anyone out there called Edge please accept my aopolgies).

I have read many of Welsh Dragon comments and find that they all bear one thing in common; common sense.

Over the last 10 or so years we have swoped common sense and flexibility for compliance and rigidity and it is having a devastating effect on this country and its' population. Yet more still to come.

Stagnation is not too far away.



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10th Feb 2010 10:28


...I have had the same type of experiences as cymraeg draig and also have a policy of recording HMRC Officers. I catch them making conflicting and compromising remarks all the time, most are silly conflicting statements, often unnecessary, and seem to be made in order to correct a mistake so they don't get punished by their bosses.

The loaded/leading questions and notes of meetings compeltely at odds with reality are standard these days. It is strange that HMRC Officers, who are fully aware that you know they are lying, then honestly expect you to discuss matters on the basis of their fabricated version of events. Perhaps there are a lot of fools at HMRC, or is it that bullying agents is common place? I know of accountants who are bullied and continue to let themselves be bullied at the client's expense, simply too cowardly to stick up for themselves, their firm or client.

Putting aside how disgraceful HMRC's investigation methods and conduct are, often totally at odds with the fundamental values of our society, what really astonishes me is that their enquiry methods are usually poor and miss simple points, excellent/legitimate avenues of investigation that would legitimately bring money into the public purse. You can't help but look at many Officers, poorly trained and with terrible leadership/support, and think that 6 decent accountants from practice with say 20 trained technicians good dwarf the amount of money any compliance office could bring in.   



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By Old Greying Accountant
10th Feb 2010 10:33


I think you have just alienated all the U2 fans - lol

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10th Feb 2010 10:37


CD - unfortunately you seem to descend into the 'humour loss' that you earlier accuse another member of; try to retain some perspective.

Posted by Becky Midgley on Wed, 10/02/2010 - 09:29


There is no "humour loss" about objecting to someone calling me "objectionable" and writing  "we would all be better off without you around. Frankly I hope you are banned from using AccountingWeb and will take your childish and pathetic rants to some dark corner of the internet where we never have to read them again."


What that posting very clearly demonstrates is the poster's intention  to continue to insult and inflame in his/her continuing campaign of harassment & cyber stalking.

Further, this individual repeatedly derails perfectly reasonable open discussions by interjecting their foul and scurrilous accusations and rantings.  As another poster quite correctly points out, at no time did I post anything offensive or insulting or aimed at another specified poster, "anonymous" did exactly that.

I would suggest that, had you been subjected to repeated obsessive behaviour and insults then you too might suffer a "humour loss".  That is the perfectly natural reaction of someone who has previously suffered from harassment (the perpetrator currently serving 5 years for breach of an injunction & a concurrent 7 year sentence for assault with a deadly weapon). I therefore know not only what it is like to be stalked, but also what it can lead to, and this poster exhibits the classic symptoms of an obsessive stalker.


Protection from Harassment Act 1997

Prohibition of harassment

(1) A person must not pursue a course of conduct—

(a) which amounts to harassment of another, and

(b) which he knows or ought to know amounts to harassment of the other.

(2) For the purposes of this section, the person whose course of conduct is in question ought to know that it amounts to harassment of another if a reasonable person in possession of the same information would think the course of conduct amounted to harassment of the other.


Having previously been told that I consider their constant postings to amount to harassment the poster cannot deny that he "knows or ought to know".  There is, therefore, no defence.

Further, the attempts to inflame which are clearly and deliberately intended to engineer a ban as admitted in this latest post also constitute an offence as success in his/her stated aim would constitute a further act of harassment. 



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10th Feb 2010 10:49


Trevor, the problem with their investigation methods are that they are biased towards finding/creating errors that will bring them in more taxation instead of having a constructive approach as to whether a return is right regardless of the outcome.

HMRC are supposed to be unbiased, but with targets and commission that is now impossible.

So we have HMRC biased towards more tax, agents biased towards less tax and Mr Brown the "right" tax as long as its the "most" tax. 

The only way "working together" stands any chance of "working" is if HMRC were to be independant of any Government control. 

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10th Feb 2010 11:06


As long as I don't lose Cliff Richards fans I'll not fret (yuk).

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10th Feb 2010 12:02

HMRC have now published draft legislation re deliberate wrongdoi

They say it should be read as part of the con doc and the same deadline applies for comments:

The draft legislation and supporting notes can be found here

And the downward spiral continues.
.             .Mark                                                                       . 

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10th Feb 2010 12:29

Con Doc

You said it right Mark. Con doc is exactly what it is.

Hey OGA what about "going underground"

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10th Feb 2010 12:35


On a serious note, obviously if an agent has been fiddling then there are powers already to bring criminal charges and thats what should happen.

This farce is going to end up as a Tax on agents who don't dot their i's and cross their t's

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By Old Greying Accountant
10th Feb 2010 14:08

going down under...

... is a better bet if things keep on like this!

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By Anonymous
10th Feb 2010 14:11

For the benefit of WD

I am (one of ) the anonymous posters that you previously found so objectionable and accused of cyberstalking. But, and it's a huge but, (and Becky will be able to confirm this, if push comes to shove) this is my first posting on this particular thread. So you need to think again before making assumptions about the identity of anonymous posters.

As for accusations of lack of humour, political correctness etc, I find it peculiar that you so readily take offence at the phrase "insane ramblings", suggesting that it is demeaning to those, particlualry children, with learning disabilities. Yet at the same time you are quite happy to talk about "the lunatics running the asylum". You often mention hypocrisy ......

If you find any of the above grossly offensive, scurrilous etc etc then please accept my apology.

And to Becky - an open apology. I had promised myself not to directly engage with WD again but given his false accusations above, albeit directed at anonymous users, he needs to to realise that I am far from being the only one that has fallen for his bait.

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10th Feb 2010 14:17

Many of their proposals appear to be unlawful


They then continue by threatening that they will - "publishing the names of tax agents...".   Again, without first obtaining a conviction this would constitute a breach of the HRA and any accountant/agent so named would be entitled to substantive damages. Accountant 2 - HMRC 0.


Bad law is worse than no law at all, and it appears that HMRC are simply embarking on an excercise designed to massage their own over inflated opinion of their own importance whilst attempting to intimidate anyone who dares to oppose them.  The tactics of the school yard bully.







An interesting document which says more about HMRC than it does about accountants/agents.

They say - "enable HMRC to access the working papers of tax agents who engage in deliberate wrongdoing which leads or is intended to lead to a loss of tax;".

OK - so they cant access working papers until they have PROVEN an agent has engaged in wrongdoing.  Without a court ruling they cannot PROVE this. The instant they make that accusation the documents become protected as potential exhibits in court proceedings. So this seems to be a proposal aimed squarly at the legally niave. Any accountant should simply tell HMRC to **** off and refuse to hand over working papers as they have no right to them unless they make an accusation, and the instant that accusation is made the documents attract legal privalege.   Accountant 1 - HMRC 0.


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