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This week's opinion: 6 June 2024

03 June 2024 / Andrew Hubbard
Issue: 4939 / Categories: Comment & Analysis
Impact of social media on the tax profession

There is a study to be done (perhaps I’ll do it myself one day) on the impact that the internet and social media have had on the conduct of tax in UK. My thought was prompted by reading some of the responses to HMRC’s consultation on raising standards (we have a couple of articles on this in this week’s issue). Many of the concerns raised about agent behaviour don’t concern traditional bricks and mortar firms but businesses whose only presence is online. It is all too easy for these firms to make things appear simple: who needs a tax adviser when all you have to do is put a few numbers in a box and get a tax refund? You then get the phenomena of social media being used to spread the ‘good news’ like wildfire. You only have to read how people were recruited in the Elphysic Ltd case (TC9126) to see how things can spiral very quickly. Similarly many people made claims for tax relief relating to NHS widening access training schemes as a result of social media stories. Many of those claims failed (E Phelan (TC8688)).

Social media has allowed people in similar situations to communicate with each other in a way which would have been impossible only a few years ago. I am sure that the contractor community could not have come together in the way that it has without social media. More recently, the various groups opposing the loan charge have drawn their strength from the sharing of experience through online networks.

I am not sure that those of us brought up in traditional practices where individual client relationships are closely nurtured have quite woken up to the extent to which the tax landscape has changed. Plenty of food for thought as we debate the potential regulation of our profession.

If you do one thing...

We are (unusually) running a bit low on queries for the Readers’ forum. Why not share your knotty tax problems with us? You are bound to get a helpful reply.

Issue: 4939 / Categories: Comment & Analysis
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