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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

From
HM Revenue & Customs
Updated
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Agent operational guidance: dishonest tax agents: establishing dishonest conduct: reporting dishonest tax agents to their professional bodies

When you issue a conduct notice to an individual who is a member of a professional or other regulatory body, HMRC can make a public interest disclosure to the individual’s professional body about their misconduct. You must follow the guidance on making a public interest disclosure that starts at IDG60000.

When a tax agent is not a member of a professional or other regulatory body but is an Accountancy Service Provider, see CH881150 about making referrals to Money Laundering Regulations teams.

Public interest disclosures are made under S20(3) of the Commissioners for Revenue and Customs Act 2005 (CRCA). Specific guidance about public interest disclosures under S20(3) CRCA is at IDG60232.

It is for the professional bodies to decide whether to investigate and what action to take against their members.

Before you issue a conduct notice you must find out if the individual is a member of a professional or other regulatory body. You may be able to determine this from the individual’s letterhead, the letters after their name or by asking them. The individual can be a member of a professional body, or their firm can, or both can be members. If you are unsure if an accountant is a member of an accountancy professional body you must contact the Commissioners’ Advisory Accountants Team (CAA) for advice either by phone or email.

When the individual is a member of an accountancy professional body, contact the CAA team and send them a copy of the proposed conduct notice. The CAA team will handle public interest disclosures about dishonest tax agents who are members of accountancy professional bodies. The CAA will consider whether to disclose the conduct notice to the individual’s professional body.

The conduct notice must contain a message along the lines of ‘A copy of this notice will be sent to the [insert name of professional body].’ The CAA team will advise on the exact wording.

When a tax agent is a member of a non-accountancy regulatory body, for example a solicitor or valuer and, having followed the guidance starting at IDG60000 in full, you believe a public interest disclosure is appropriate, you must email the details to Central Policy, Information Policy and Disclosure who will advise you on the action to take.

If your case cannot proceed because you cannot identify the individual in a firm who is responsible for the dishonest conduct, or you cannot identify sufficient evidence of dishonest conduct, you must still consider either

  • the CAA team when an individual or firm is a member of an accountancy professional body or
  • Central Policy, Information Policy and Disclosure when an individual or firm is a member of a non-accountancy regulatory body

because it may still be possible to make a public interest disclosure in respect of either the individual or the firm if there is evidence of misconduct.

Once you have made contact with the CAA team you must keep it informed of developments in the case at all key stages. The CAA team

  • will liaise with the accountancy professional body
  • may ask you for further information
  • will ensure that any information disclosures to accountancy professional bodies are controlled and made in accordance with the law and the Information Disclosure Guidance.