High Net Worth certificates
Members are occasionally asked to sign a High Net Worth certificate. Problems may arise because neither the ATT nor CTA qualifications are recognised for this purpose by the legislation. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has historically indicated that it has no plans to amend the legislation. Having considered whether to pursue this matter, the ATT (and CIOT) have concluded that such work was not part of mainstream tax work and that it fell more within the audit role. In reaching this conclusion we noted that ATT members are not statutory auditors (although some members may hold another qualification giving them this status) nor are they property valuers. ATT members prepare returns on income and expenditure based on the information provided by the client and in doing so are not required to verify or confirm income and expenditure nor the valuation of assets and liabilities. Arguably the ATT syllabus does not cover all the skills and technical knowledge required in connection with High Net Worth certificates. That is not to say that members are not capable of carrying out this work but rather that the qualifications on their own would not equip a member with the requisite skills and knowledge. While we appreciate it is frustrating for members who wish to provide this service for clients it would be difficult to put a persuasive case to an already reluctant BEIS to recognise the ATT and CTA qualifications. For this reason we will not be taking the matter forward.
Members are sometimes asked to assist with the tax affairs of a deceased client. Some of this work can stray over in to 'reserved services' related to the applying for and receiving probate. Reserved services may only be carried out by a qualified legal adviser or by someone licensed by an approved regulator or licensing authority. Providing these services when not eligible to do so is an offence under the Administration of Justice Act 1985 so members should approach this area of work with caution. There is no definition of probate work other than that set out in the Legal Services Act 2007: 'the preparation of any probate papers on which to found or oppose a grant of probate or a grant of letters of administration.' It is therefore not always clear which elements of the probate process are reserved and which are not. ATT and CIOT have not sought authority to license probate services because of the very low demand from members in the past. However, the ICAEW became a licensing authority and approved regulator in 2014 and has recently issued some guidance on where the boundaries lie which may be helpful.
As with all services provided a member should ensure that the work to be undertaken is fully and accurately covered by both the engagement letter and Professional Indemnity Insurance. Please note that if you are providing the service on an unpaid private basis then there is no restriction on the probate services you may offer (subject of course to your knowledge and competence to do so).