HMRC publishes a standard for agents

Aimed at agents not already covered by professional body standards 

HMRC has published a very brief standard for agents. The wording is very similar to an item in Agent Update 52

The standard covers three areas: 

  • Integrity – agents to be straightforward and honest e.g. full disclosure and not implying that they are regulated for tax by HMRC
  • Professional competence and due care – including keeping up to date, working to prevent errors in tax returns and ensuring that online access credentials are kept secure
  • Professional behaviour - including ensuring that the agent’s own tax affairs are kept up to date, showing courtesy and professionalism in dealings with HMRC and considering the risks of arrangements on which the agent advises 

No specific detail is provided and at this stage there is no indication of what action HMRC might take where it identifies a breach. 

These standards are in effect a ‘lite’ version of the existing standards for members of professional bodies that are signed up to the existing pan professional code of conduct in relation to taxation (the PCRT). The existing PCRT goes further than this HMRC statement so there is, in practice, no change to the standards which apply to ICAEW members and members of the other signatory bodies to the PCRT (CIOT, ICAS, ACCA, AAT, ATT and STEP).

The current PCRT, published on 1 May 2015, can be found by clicking here. The PCRT bodies are in further discussions with the government to revise the PCRT in order to address public interest concerns about the creation, facilitation and promotion of tax avoidance schemes. It is expected that a revised version of the PCRT will be published later this year.