ACCA’s Global Forum for Taxation has members from the UK, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Mainland China and meets on a regular basis to help inform ACCA’s policies on issues relating to tax. It is chaired by Mukesh Gunamal, Director of Global Tax Quality and Risk Management at Ernst & Young.
Chas Roy-Chowdhury, head of tax at ACCA, said: 'There was a lot to discuss as the Forum has been concerned about lack of tax clarity and simplicity over recent years. We have been very clear about issues to do with tax avoidance and evasion, and ACCA’s view is that whilst there is an increasing blurring of the terms ‘avoidance’ and ‘evasion’ the former is legal and the latter illegal.'
ACCA believes that, regardless of the pressures faced by taxing authorities and taxpayers alike, the underlying issues and the rights and responsibilities of each have remained broadly unchanged. Chas Roy-Chowdhury adds: 'The same considerations apply to accountants advising their clients or employers on tax matters. Accountants have an obligation to act within the law, a professional obligation to their clients and employers to act in their best interests, with competence and due care as well as ethical obligations to act with integrity, objectivity. Only if accountants advise clients and employers in a way that is lawful, competent and ethical will they, in ACCA’s view, be providing ‘public value’, by serving the client interest and the public interest at the same time.'
The Forum also discussed a recent report from the UK’s tax authority, HMRC, called 'Closing in on tax evasion: a new approach from HMRC', which was launched alongside a UK-wide advertising campaign. The Forum welcomed HMRC’s new proactive stance, and also commented favourably on the news that HMRC will have £77 million of additional funding to help them deal with tax evasion.
Chas Roy-Chowdhury explained: 'We discussed the merits of HMRC’s approach, looking at whether the most effective methods of countering tax evasion were being considered. While we don’t claim to have all the answers, we did think that funds should be invested in recruiting experienced prosecuting lawyers, as well experienced tax specialists amongst other things.'
- The details of the Global Forum meetings are held on ACCA’s website, which can be found in the 'Related Links' section, left of this article.