Legislation to address the matter of dishonest tax agents, announced in Budget 2011, will be introduced in Finance Bill 2012. The primary features of this legislation will be:
- The imposition of a civil penalty;
- Access to the agent's working papers, subject to the approval of the tax tribunal; and
- An extension of the 'name and shame' regime, powers to publish the details of agents who have been penalised.
Where publication of the identity of the agent will involve the details of a third party organisation, the third party organisation will have explicit right to make representations (ie to argue as to why their details should not be published in association with that of the dishonest agent).
Who will be affected?
In addition to the dishonest agent, the legislation will impact upon any clients whose agent has been found to be dishonest, and any organisations that may have employed or engaged the dishonest agent.
The legislation is intended to have effect from 1 April 2013.
Similar penalties, such as that imposed by Section 99 TMA 1970 for 'assisting in preparation of an incorrect return' have been in existence for some time and this legislation may be viewed as part of HMRC's ongoing review and rationalisation of its powers and the associated penalties for non compliance.