We surveyed our members during November 2017 for their views on how they approached compliance with the obligations imposed on them by the International Tax Compliance (Client Notification) Regulations 2016 and to obtain feedback on their experiences. These regulations placed an obligation on tax advisers who provided offshore advice or services in the year to 30 September 2016 (beyond solely the preparation and delivery of tax returns) to send certain clients a notification comprising an HMRC branded document and standard wording for inclusion in a covering letter or email by 31 August 2017.
The responses we received have formed the basis for our report.
The survey revealed that respondents did not find the exercise straightforward. The time and costs involved in complying with the notification requirement were clearly an issue, along with resentment that members felt they were doing something that they thought HMRC should have been doing.
Before imposing any similar requirement on tax advisers in the future, we would urge HMRC to review and evaluate the exercise to ascertain not only whether it achieved its objectives, but whether using tax advisers to communicate messages from HMRC to their clients was more effective than sending the messages themselves. Given the burden it placed on tax advisers, we think it would be unreasonable for HMRC to repeat the exercise without conducting such a post-implementation review. There should also be a comprehensive consultation undertaken with stakeholders before any similar obligations are imposed in the future.
We have sent the survey results to HMRC so that they are aware of our members’ views, and advised them that we are happy for the results to be used in a post-implementation review.
The full report can be found here.