Commenting on today's announcement from government about plans for further action to tackle tax evasion, Jonathan Riley, Head of Tax, Grant Thornton UK LLP commented:
"We agree that professional advisors should be held liable if they engage in providing tax evasion advice and not bona fide tax planning, not just individuals within those firms. We also agree in principle that fines should be significant and based on the amount of tax evaded, so the need to introduce another penalty based on underlying capital value is perhaps extreme. However this will only work if we have clarity on the timing and definitions of these policies, and certainty on what is and isn't an offence. The need for clarity and consistency has long been a wish for both ourselves and the clients we advise. We need a clear line to navigate complex legislation.
"Getting rid of the requirement to demonstrate a person’s ‘intention’ and potentially applying these rules to tax avoidance creates blurred lines and bad law. As it stands, they are not well thought out in the detail and as a consequence, we don't believe they will deliver on what they have set out to do. I'd urge the profession and policy makers to work together to make sure that the law works to deliver what is intended, a clear and just system that funds public service. To the reputational benefit of all.
"Grant Thornton has published its own code of conduct as to the approach we adopt when it comes to providing tax advice. We will also continue our work with regulators such as the ICAEW to update the existing professional code of conduct relating to tax services, so that the way tax advisers work is even more easily understood by all stakeholders – clients, HMRC and the public alike.”