ACCA welcomes HMRC move to require tax agents to belong to a professional body

Regulation needs careful consideration to ensure fairness and proportionality for taxpayers and agents


Leading global accountancy body ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) has welcomed the step by HMRC to look to only work with tax agents who are members of recognised professional bodies. Although ACCA is clear that the proposal would need to be carefully implemented to ensure that taxpayers, agents and Exchequer benefit and we do not see a spiral of increased cost and non-proportionate regulation.


Glenn Collins, head of technical and strategic engagement, ACCA UK, said: “The idea of HMRC looking to work only with agents who are members of a recognised professional body has been raised by ACCA over many years. It has long been recognised that HMRC has issues with some agents it deals with who act in an unprofessional manner. This step is designed to deal with this problem.”


Collins said: “While the move would be broadly welcomed by ACCA members it is imperative that this is done in a cost effective manner. Such a move should increase the quality of tax advice which taxpayers receive and provide greater assurance to HMRC.


“However, HMRC will have to be clear and careful on how it defines professional body so those with clear accountability, and public benefit remit backed by clear and transparent standards are included. We will carefully support and advise HMRC to ensure the greatest possible competition and choice in the tax advice market for taxpayers while ensuring an appropriate degree of regulation and protection for taxpayers.


“HMRC needs to see that these professional bodies – such as ACCA – appropriately regulate and monitor their members across a range of activities including tax advice. Equally importantly taxpayers – both businesses and individuals – must not see an increase in the cost of their tax advice at a time when they are struggling with a sluggish economy and rising costs on many other fronts.


“Overall, ACCA believes this move could help improve trust and confidence in the tax system, reduce pressure on HMRC services and protect taxpayers. ACCA looks forward to working closely with HMRC and other professional bodies to ensure this lates regulatory move is applied proportionately, fairly and at pace.”


Editor’s note


ACCA also believes that this move could help to rebuild trust with stakeholders which we have consistently called on HMRC to do. See our letter to the Chancellor ahead of the March 2024 Budget