When I wrote about the Tax Health Plan proposed by HMRC, and asked which profession might be next, I was joking when I added accountants to my list; really I was. My idle fantasy might be about to come true as it is reported "Accountants could be next for tax amnesty". Of course the original report was in the Mail, so a pinch of salt may be needed.
Flattered though I am that Dave Hartnett might be one of my loyal readers, I really do not believe that accountants, tax advisers, bookkeepers or any allied profession should have a special deal if they have been fiddling their taxes. All such groups should be treated more harshly if they are on the fiddle in the same way as crooked HMRC employees, bank employee thieves and bent coppers because all are in a position to know more clearly what is right and what is wrong.
We are in a privileged position of trust and if our professions cannot be trusted then “quis custodiet ipsos custodes?"; certainly not our professional bodies or HMRC because any action taken by them in terms of policing would be after the event? Anyway, after any settlement under the Accountants Tax Plan, should an offender be reported to his or her professional body? Presumably not in terms of HMRC confidentiality, but should the transgressor be banned as a tax agent?
HMRC is sending out dreadfully mixed messages to the profession, with the big stick in one hand and the soft soap in the other. Give us a break in terms of working with us as agents, but please don't give any dodgy accountants a way out.
© Jon Stow 2010