Comments from ACCA to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), 11 November 2011.
Our overall view is that the adoption of the MARD into UK legislation will resolve a number of issues that were not dealt with under the previous guidelines where there were insufficient measures to safeguard the financial interests of the UK tax authority.
There is a significant extension to the scope of the mutual assistance in tax collection under the proposed legislation and we feel that the HMRC would be able to make request for mutual assistance even though the domestic means of recovery have been fully exhausted or recourse to such procedures would give rise to disproportionate difficulty. We hope that the practicalities will be addressed for the implementation of the legislation.
The implementation of the proposed legislation needs to consider ARTICLE 26 of the EC Treaty, which means that requesting authorities must already have strong evidence of tax evasion before they request information.
Full implementation across the EU is still facing obstacles and we feel that a solution to overcome the problems would be to automatically exchange information on a multilateral basis. The best known precedent is the EU Savings Directive.
Standardised forms should be introduced which can be used in dealing with tax authorities. Language problems need to be factored in and also confidentiality of information for taxpayer protection will need to be considered to ensure that tax evasion is avoided. Coordination with, for example, the FISCUS project and the project for the Interconnection of Business Registers to ensure compatibility of forms should also form part of the work.
Co-operation in tax matters is a necessity and it is a positive step for the UK to implement these guidelines from 2012 onwards.