A challenging landscape for tax professionals

Brexit dominates the political agenda, but it is by no means the only issue on tax professionals’ minds. Some of the challenges facing tax advisers were addressed by the House of Lords economic affairs committee in December. The committee’s report is essential reading for policymakers.

Concerns expresses by nine tax specialists in my article for a Tolley Tax supplement to the January 2019 edition of Tax Adviser included the complexity of tax law, the impact of automation, the quality of HMRC’s service, and the department’s approach to avoidance and evasion.

 

Making tax digital, HMRC guidance and the tax gap

A key aim of the Making Tax Digital service is to ‘close the tax gap due to errors with people making their VAT returns’, according to HMRC. An alternative – and perhaps better – way to deploy technology to improve compliance is set out in an Office of Tax Simplification report. Better HMRC guidance, the OTS says, is likely to lead to more accurate tax reporting and ‘help to close the tax gap, as taxpayers should have a better understanding of HMRC’s view of the law’. Read more:

My article for Accounting and Business January 2019, published (free to view) by ACCA.

Designing good compliance into the tax system

HM Revenue & Customs estimates the total UK tax gap, the difference between the tax collected and the amount that should be collected “in theory”, at £34bn. Just £1.7bn relates to avoidance (excluding international tax planning strategies such as profit shifting, which are being addressed slowly but multilaterally), and £6bn relates to interpretation of the law.

In contrast, criminal attacks account for around £5bn and evasion another £5bn, while £3.5bn is attributed to the “hidden economy”.

Read more: My article for AAT Comment, 12 January