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MP’s support recommendation for increased regulation of accountants

A new survey published by the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) has revealed that MP’s “overwhelmingly support” the group’s recommendation for increased regulation of high street accountants and tax advisers.

The association is campaigning for a legal requirement that anyone offering paid-for tax advice should be a member of a relevant professional body.

There is currently no legal requirement to be “appropriately qualified” or to be a member of a professional body and as such a third of the accountancy sector is effectively unregulated.

A recent YouGov survey, commissioned by AAT, showed that over three quarters (78%) of 103 MP’s surveyed were in favour of introducing compulsory membership of a professional body for anyone offering paid-for tax and accountancy services.

This included 75% of Conservative MP’s and rose to 85% among their Labour counterparts, whilst just 6% of MP’s disagreed with the proposal.

The association claimed that unregulated agents account for most agent-related complaints received by HMRC which in turn contributes to tax evasion and money laundering activities.

Adam Harper, director of professional standards and policy, AAT, said: “Whilst it’s a very positive sign that over three-quarters of MP’s back AAT’s recommendation we now need this support to translate into action, including for Treasury Ministers to listen to their colleagues and legislate accordingly.

“This long overdue change would put accountants on a par with nurses, architects and solicitors – who all have to be a member of their respective professional bodies – whilst benefiting individual taxpayers and businesses as well as the UK economy as a whole.”