HMRC have made another update to their 'Standards for Agents'. The new version acknowledges that if a tax agent is a member of one of the professional bodies that have signed up to Professional Conduct in Relation to Taxation (PCRT) and adheres to its values, HMRC's Standard for Agents should not place further requirements on them. Other recent updates mean that the Standard is now considerably longer than the original version.

The Standard sets out HMRC’s expectations of all individuals and businesses who act as tax agents. The original Standard was a short bullet-pointed list, updated over the years but it is now longer and more detailed than the document published back in 2016. The latest version of the Standard should be read through for all tax agents.

Concerning professional ethics, HMRC notes that it expects professional body members to follow their body’s code of ethics and all agents who interact with HMRC to keep to its standard, regardless of professional body membership. If agents meet their professional body’s code of ethics, however, the HMRC standard for agents should not place further requirements on them.

Other important changes over the years to the Standard have included advice to agents to:

  • Respond promptly when HMRC uses information powers.
  • Make the identity of the agent or business clear, if known by a trading name or a shortened version of the legal name.
  • Avoid including figures in returns or claims which are unsubstantiated or speculative.
  • Keep contemporary records of what they advise their clients and when they advise it.

HMRC say that they are continuing to develop the way it works with agents, " ...with the intention of better differentiating between agents according to the value they add or risks they present. As we use our data more effectively in this way, we will improve our ability to identify instances of poor tax agent standards and take appropriate action."

Useful guides on this topic

HMRC's Standard for Agents
Our guide to HMRC's 'Standard for agents', HMRC's approach to tackling bad agent behaviour, and providing a definition of a tax adviser. 

Anti-Money Laundering Zone
AML Zone contains checklists and guidance on the Anti-Money Laundering requirements that businesses need to follow.

External links

HMRC Standard for Agents