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How is HMRC upholding the Standard for agents?

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You can find out the answer to this question in our recently published in-depth review on HMRC’s powers to uphold its Standard for Agents.

The review sets out our approach and the statutory powers available to us when dealing with breaches of the Standard. It brings together contributions and examples of work from across HMRC and it’s the first time this information has been published in one place.

It highlights the wide-ranging activity we use to correct poor agent behaviour, which includes providing education support where errors are identified, removal or suspension of access to online services, penalties, and public interest disclosures.

HMRC’s standard for agents, first published in 2016, applies to all paid agents, regardless of whether they are a member of a professional body or not. The review helpfully maps the standards against powers and is a useful reminder of what is expected from agents, as well as what you can expect from us.

Important next steps in the review are to:

· publish HMRC’s approach to tax agents in a single policy statement, including how to report breaches of the agent standard
· update and publicise the agent standard
· continue to ensure consistency across HMRC in its overall approach to agents
· focus HMRC’s efforts to uphold its agent standard on the worst agent behaviours.

The review is linked to our work on Raising Standards in the Tax Advice Market, which is part of our Tax Administration Strategy. It recognises the important service good tax advisers offer their clients, but also acknowledges that more needs to be done to tackle the problem of technically incompetent, unprofessional and exploitative tax advisers – as well as those deliberately setting out to cause harm.

And there is more to come on our work on Raising Standards in the Tax Market. We will go even further this year when we launch 2 consultations. One will be on options to improve the wider regulatory framework around standards and tax advice, and the other will be on tackling the high cost to taxpayers of claiming tax refunds.

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