If the day of the rogue accountant and lawyer is over soon we should all celebrate

Posted on

The FT has reported this morning:

Middle-class professionals are to be targeted in a new crackdown on tax evasion promised by the chief prosecutor of England and Wales.

That sounds dramatic, as does the follow uip which says:

The Crown Prosecution Service will dramatically ramp up the number of tax evasion cases it takes on – with a view to prosecution – over the next two years, Keir Starmer, the director of public prosecutions, told the Financial Times. The CPS will increase fivefold the number of tax files it handles, to 1,500 a year by 2014-15.

Now, I welcome this: it is time that tax prosecutions ceased to have the purely criminal tone relating to smuggling and related issues that recent pronouncements on the issue from H M Revenue & Customs have highlighted and addressed the issue of tax evasion as a crime. But I welcome even more the statement that:

Tax consultants who push dishonest avoidance schemes – and the professionals who invest in them – are central targets in the strategy.

“There have been some cases involving lawyers, some involving tax consultants, and plumbers,” Mr Starmer said in an interview. “Within the ramped-up volume, it’s intended that we will select cases to send a clear message as to the breadth of our coverage.”

Now that is truly welcome. This market is big, and I believe that if the purveyors of such schemes are to be targeted the impact will be significant, first of all in pushing people out of the amrket in the first place and second in making potentrial purchasers wary.

If the day of the rogue accountant and lawyer is over we should all celebrate.