Professional bodies welcome HMRC’s updated Standard for Tax Agents

UK accountancy and tax bodies have welcomed the publication on May 17th of an updated HMRC Standard for Agents.

The new standard sets out HMRC’s expectations of all tax agents and advisers in their dealings with HMRC, whether or not they are members of professional bodies with their own codes of behaviour.

Seven bodies collectively form the Professional Conduct in Relation to Taxation (PCRT) group. PCRT is a co-authored code setting out the principles and standards of behaviour that all members, affiliates and students of the PCRT bodies must follow in their tax work.

The seven PCRT bodies have worked collaboratively with HMRC on amendments to the Standard since the update was issued in February of last year.

The Standard does not override duties set out by relevant professional bodies and PCRT sets the highest standards for members of the author bodies. The PCRT bodies support the wording in the updated Standard, which endorses PCRT.

In particular, the updated Standard now recognises the importance of PCRT and states that if agents are meeting their professional body’s code of ethics, the HMRC Standard should not place further requirements on them. This is a ‘welcome clarification and removes any potential duplication and unnecessary compliance burdens of applying multiple and potentially misaligned codes of conduct’ according to the accountancy and tax bodies.

The 2023 update of the Standard sought to address a number of issues HMRC have been dealing with in relation to agents, but in doing so some inconsistencies arose with the standards set out in PCRT and the supporting ethical codes of the PCRT bodies.  Following the work undertaken there is now consistent messaging and the PCRT bodies welcome the collaborative approach taken by HMRC to resolve points raised by our members.

In a joint statement the bodies said:

“We welcome the renewed recognition of Professional Conduct in Relation to Taxation (PCRT) as the gold standard through its inclusion in the revised Standard.

“There is currently considerable focus on potential future regulation of the tax services market with an ongoing government consultation.  The PCRT Group are keen that any future direction raises standards consistently across the whole market to the high levels required by PCRT. The revised Standard is reassuring in its endorsement of PCRT as setting and meeting the desired high standards of tax agents, as well as ensuring that those meeting it are not having to consider multiple, overlapping codes of ethics.”

Read more stories

Join over 6,000 wills and probate practitioners – Check back daily for all the latest news, views, insights and best practice and sign up to our e-newsletter to receive our weekly round up every Friday morning. 

You’ll receive the latest updates, analysis, and best practice straight to your inbox.