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20 November 2005
Categories: News
ATT syllabus changes; inheritance tax; shortest tax year; Worshipful Company of Tax Advisers

ATT changes

The Association of Taxation Technicians has announced a new examination structure and syllabus. The current structure will be replaced by a modular one offering a choice from seven freestanding certificates of competency. An individual working wholly in personal tax compliance, for example, will be able to take an examination in that topic only.
The certificate papers will be:

  • Personal taxation
  • Business taxation and accounting principles
  • Business taxation: higher skills
  • Inheritance tax, trusts and estates
  • VAT
  • Business compliance
  • Practice administration and ethics

Relevant law and accounting issues will be examined in each paper.
The first sitting of the new examination will be held in May 2007, with transitional provisions for candidates with passes under the current structure. The papers will be taken in May and November each year. Membership of the ATT will be granted to those who have four certificates of competency which must include personal taxation, business taxation and accounting principles and practice administration and ethics, and who can demonstrate at least two years' practical experience in UK taxation. The timescale for taking the papers is under discussion, but candidates will be able to take them one at a time, if they so wish, in order to gain the ATT qualification.
Jean Jesty, president of the Association, said that the new examination is being introduced so that more people working in tax can gain a professional qualification and recognition. She added that it was hoped that the ATT would also 'be of interest to those who currently do not take professional exams because they consider much of the required learning is not relevant to their work'. Adding to this, Annie Bailey, chairman of the ATT's examination committee said that the ATT was keen to be more than just 'a stepping stone to the CTA'. While being a precursor to the CTA was very important, it was just as important to bring in more people who would never want to advance that far and who were happy filling the tax compliance role.
Elizabeth Robertson, tax partner at Creaseys says that most people in her firm with the ATT qualification worked in personal tax, so they tended to 'struggle' with the business tax and accounting aspects of the old syllabus. She thinks that combining the business tax and accounting papers and allowing candidates the option of doing, say, the inheritance tax paper would be useful. Rob Ellerby, director of tax training at Ernst & Young, has also been involved in the consultative process around the new syllabus and says that he is 'comfortable with the new model'. Ernst & Young tends not to have individuals who study just for the ATT, but tends to put certain people through it prior to going on to the CTA qualification.
For further details, visit the ATT website at

Storm in a teacup

Inheritance tax hit the headlines of The Sunday Times Money section a couple of weeks ago. However, having read the article, it contained no information that a tax adviser would not already know. In essence, the storm centred round the size of the garden of a taxpayer's only or main residence. HMRC claimed that a garden of just over 0.5 hectare was too big for the house and that it exceeded the amount of garden deemed reasonable. HMRC have therefore claimed capital gains tax on a proportion of the garden. As John Whiting of PricewaterhouseCoopers says, this is really HMRC 'doing some squeezing' and one could say that it is reasonable for HMRC to check that where proceeds of some £1.5 million are involved, the garden really is appropriate to the property. However, as the property in question was built in the 1920s and the garden had been there as long as the property, one would hope that HMRC would take a 'sensible approach'.
As to the lifestyle farming issue also raised in the article, Adrian Baird's article 'Back to the plough', Taxation, 10 November 2005, page 156 explained the Lands Tribunal case, Lloyds TSB Private Banking (personal representatives of Rosemary Antrobus deceased) v Peter Twiddy DET/47/2004. Again, this is not a new issue, but as John Whiting says, where some individuals buy a property with two or three fields adjoining it as a good investment, is the land farmland or just a 'bigger part of the garden'. The issue has become more hazy and HMRC does seem to be doing some 'probing'.
Overall, Mr Whiting feels that HMRC is take a more risk-based approach to some property transactions.

Shortest tax year?

The shortest tax year must be 2004-04 as shown on an HMRC form acknowledging receipt of an employer's annual return filed online.

Tax fiesta

The Worshipful Company of Tax Advisers took part in the Lord Mayor's Show to welcome the new Lord Mayor, the Rt Hon Alderman David Brewer and to celebrate their recent acquisition of livery status.
Led by the master, Erica Stary, wardens and clerk, some 50 liverymen and their family members took part in the parade. Most represented an amazing range of different taxes, including danegeld, the Napoleonic wars for income tax, death duty, window tax, entertainments tax, and ship money. Four cub scouts with their leader represented child tax credit, and the company's founder master, Roy Jennings, came with his 'smuggler' grandson as customs duties. All along the way, the band, The Exchequers, played money-related tunes. Everyone had an exciting day.
The membership list is still open. Prospective applicants should contact the clerk, Paul Herbage at 191 West End Road, Ruislip, Middlesex HA4 6LD, 01895 625 817.


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