Regulation

78% of MPs favour stricter regulation for accountants and tax advisers

It comes as the AAT is campaigning for a legal requirement that anyone offering paid-for tax advice should be a member of a ‘relevant professional body’

Some 78% of MPs are in favour of introducing compulsory membership of a professional body for anyone offering paid-for tax and accountancy services, according to a recent survey by the AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians). 

Of those surveyed, it was found that 75% of Conservative MPs and 85% Labour MPs agreed. Just 6% of MPs disagreed with the proposal. 

It comes as the AAT is campaigning for a legal requirement that anyone offering paid-for tax advice should be a member of a “relevant professional body”. 

According to the group, there is currently no requirement to be appropriately qualified or to be a member of a professional body and as such a third of the accountancy sector is “effectively unregulated”. 

Adam Harper, director of professional standards and policy, AAT, said that the government is proposing to make the UK’s audit sector the most “tightly regulated in the world”. 

He said: “Yet in stark contrast there is currently no requirement for accountants and tax advisers to be appropriately qualified or to be a member of a professional body, even though unregulated tax agents account for two-thirds of all agent-related complaints to HMRC. This can leave individuals and businesses open to significant financial problems. 

“Whilst it’s a very positive sign that over three-quarters of MPs back AAT’s recommendation that anyone providing paid-for tax or accountancy services should be a member of a relevant professional body, we now need this support to translate into action, including for Treasury Ministers to listen to their colleagues and legislate accordingly.”

He added: “This long-overdue change would put accountants on a par with nurses, architects and solicitors – who all have to be a member of their respective professional bodies – whilst benefitting individual taxpayers and businesses as well as the UK economy as a whole.” 

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