Following Theresa May’s speech to the Conservative Party Conference last week, ICAEW chief executive Michael Izza has made a bullish response, repeating calls for the government to approve the profession’s ethical code
Like many members, I get angry when accountants are singled out by politicians as the advisors helping individuals and businesses evade their responsibilities to society. The prime minister in her speech to the Conservative Party Conference last Wednesday (5 October 2016) joined what was already quite a long list when she said ‘…if you’re an accountant, a financial adviser or a middleman who helps people to avoid what they owe to society, we’re coming after you too.’
I have made it clear that when it comes to our members, we expect them to uphold the highest ethical and professional standards when it comes to tax advice, in line with our ethical code. This is reinforced by our Professional Code in Relation to Tax (PCRT) and we’re now waiting for ministers to give their final approval to the latest version of this.
Without professionally qualified tax agents, the tax system would not work. Chartered accountants and qualified tax advisors are integral to the effective operation of the tax system, helping to ensure that tax payers pay the right amount of tax at the right time and thereby improve compliance.
So I would say to the prime minister, it is time for you to stop attacking all accountants but instead acknowledge the contribution that the vast majority make to the tax system and to our economy.
When it comes to aggressive tax avoidance and evasion, turn the spotlight onto those individuals who are not members of a professional body and onto those professions, such as the legal profession, who have yet to put in place the guidance and measures that the accountancy profession is putting in place to deal with it.
This piece first appeared on the ICAEW’s website.