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ICAEW calls for level tax advice playing field

ICAEW calls for level tax advice playing field

In October last year, Prudential the insurance giant, lost their High court battle to have accountants’ advice made confidential in the same way that advice given by lawyers is.

The case has now gone to the Court of Appeal and last Wednesday the ICAEW spoke out in favour of the Prudential.

Charles Flint QC, speaking on behalf of the ICAEW, told the court that both online accountants and lawyers are performing an identical role in an identical context and therefore you can’t distinguish between them. He added that the institute is interested in getting the best outcome for the public.

The Law Society on the other hand wants the Legal Professional Privilege (LPP) to remain solely for lawyers.

Accountancy bodies have for some time been calling for a level playing field saying that tax advice should be treated in the same manner regardless of whether it is a lawyer or an accountant who gives the advice.

The Prudential originally took the case to court because they think HMRC should only be entitled to see professional advice once a litigation process has been formally instigated. But HMRC is keen to boost up the government’s coffers and combat aggressive tax planning and part of its strategy could be to ramp up its demands that accountants disclose the advice they have given to clients.

It is thought that the case could take as long as three years to resolve and could end up going to the EU for a final ruling.

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Image: Baby-foot (Table football) by Duloup

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