Consultation: IESBA Exposure Draft on Proposed Revisions to the Code Addressing Tax Planning and Related Services

ACCA welcomes the opportunity to provide views in response to the IESBA Exposure Draft on Proposed Revisions to the Code Addressing Tax Planning and Related Services (hereinafter referred to as the ‘ED’). We hope that our comments, which reflect feedback from our ACCA Global Forum for Ethics and ACCA Global Forum for Taxation, are a helpful contribution to this process.

We support the broad aims of the proposals and note that they are generally compatible with our Global policy on taxation of companies: principles and practices. However, we note that in many jurisdictions, tax advisory and compliance services are not protected or formally regulated activities. As a result, tax planning (TP) and related services are often provided by non-professional accountants, such as lawyers and other individuals who may be from different professions or who may have no professional qualifications at all. Such individuals are not under the purview of the IESBA International Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants (including International Independence Standards) (‘Code’) and may not be subject to a similar and equally rigorous set of ethical and independence requirements.

Therefore, it is important to be mindful of considerations of global operability and practicality. Accordingly, we recommend that IESBA works closely with other professions whose members are similarly involved in providing such services, so that ethical requirements and objectives are aligned and met, while maintaining the Code as a gold standard of professional ethical requirements.

At this juncture, it may also be timely for IESBA to consider developing profession-agnostic ethical requirements for TP and related services, similar to the approach taken for IESBA’s Sustainability Project where the IESBA has committed to readying profession-agnostic ethics and independence standards for all sustainability assurance providers. We believe that it is generally more effective to regulate behaviour (i.e., individuals providing TP and related services) rather than defined classes of individuals (e.g., professional accountants). However, we are mindful that there may be implementation and enforceability challenges stemming from the fact that non-professional accountants are likely to be beyond the purview of the Code unless specifically implemented at the respective jurisdiction level.

To read the response in full, please download the response document.