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Civil powers allow ‘naming and shaming’ of dishonest agents

04 April 2013
Issue: 4397 / Categories: News , Investigations

HMRC will use new legislation when criminal prosection is inappropriate

HMRC have been granted civil powers to penalise dishonest tax agents, which the department intends to use when it feels criminal prosecution is not appropriate.

New legislation enacted this week will allow the Revenue to investigate agents’ conduct, charge civil penalties of between £5,000 and £50,000, and to ‘name and shame’ agents who have acted dishonestly.

The new powers – developed through work between the taxman and professional bodies – contain safeguards and checks including tribunal approval for file access notices, the right of appeal against some of the Revenue’s decisions, and the requirement for ‘key’ decisions by tax officials to be authorised at a senior level.

When HMRC believe they have evidence of dishonest conduct, it will be set out in notice from a specialist officer to the agent, who may be asked to hand over his or her working papers. The Revenue is empowered to approach any third party that holds the papers, and to disclose details of the dishonest conduct to the agent’s professional body.

Details of an agent who has received a fine may be published on the Revenue website for up to 12 months, and could include his or her business or private address, nature of business, the periods of the dishonest conduct, the amount of the penalty, and other details necessary to identify the individual – who will be informed in advance of the taxman’s intention to publish the details and be given 30 days to respond.

However, there is no right of appeal against the taxman's decision to publish the details.

Issue: 4397 / Categories: News , Investigations
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