AAT has launched a new guide that provides consumers with tips on how to appoint accountants, while sharing examples of the harm that can be caused when using unregulated accountants or tax advisors.
Several key business figures provided supportive quotes throughout the guide outlining the importance of regulated advice, including the interim small business commissioner Philip King, Christopher Jones of the International Underwriting Association, and Gary Ashford of the Chartered Institute of Taxation.
Ashford said: “If I go and see a doctor, I need to know that the doctor is, in fact, a doctor. Most people in the general public have absolutely no knowledge that the accountant down the street is completely unqualified and has no Professional Indemnity insurance.”
It comes as a recent AAT survey found that six out of 10 people were unaware that no qualifications are required to practice as an accountant or tax advisor.
Ashford also commented that despite unregulated accountants only making up one-third of the professional body, two-thirds of complaints to HMRC are about these individuals, including ones as serious as tax evasion and money laundering.
Adam Harper, director of Professional Standards and Policy at AAT, added: “Although employing an unregulated accountant or tax adviser may appear to be a money-saver, many people are unaware of the potential risks they could be exposing themselves to.
“As our new guide shows, their mistakes and errors could leave taxpayers with large and unnecessary fines and penalties, or even subject to fraudulent activity. Using a regulated accountant, however, will help to ensure that consumers can trust their accountant’s knowledge is up-to-date and access to a means of redress should they have concerns.”
He encouraged people and small business owners to consult this guide to protect their interests.