Ethics in Tax

by Ian Hayes
access120 days access
cpd hours4 CPD hours

This course will enable you to:

  • Recognise the difference between legal positions and ethical dilemmas
  • Understand the fundamental principles you should follow when dealing with ethics in tax
  • Realise the responsibilities different individuals and different companies have when dealing with ethics in tax
  • Understand the ICAEW's guidance to resolving ethical conflicts of interest
  • Understand the risks posed to organisations by ethical dilemmas in tax

From Jimmy Carr to Starbucks, the bad publicity resulting from overly aggressive but legal tax planning has left both tax advisors and their clients nervous. How does a company decide what line to tread between safeguarding their shareholders' interests and their responsibilities to society? How do you balance what's ethical and what's in the best interest of your businesses and clients?

This course looks in depth at what ethics are, and explains how you can use them and make them work for you. By a careful use of examples and cases drawn from real professional life, you will be presented with ethical dilemmas and equipped with tools to formulate your own responses and deal with them.

Law, citizenship and public morality

  • Why do we have to pay tax?
  • Why are some ethical issues backed by law and others not?
  • Why do people choose to avoid or evade tax?
  • What are taxpayers' rights and responsibilities?
  • What sort of help or censure do tax administrations deserve?
  • Where does equality have a place in a tax system?

Tax and professional ethics

  • What is the difference between an adviser and an intermediary?
  • What are the fundamental principles of the Professional Conduct in Relation to Taxation (PCRT)?
  • Integrity
  • Objectivity
  • Professional competence and due care
  • Confidentiality
  • Professional behaviour
  • Why is it important to establish boundaries with clients?
  • How should a tax adviser deal with issues with which they disagree?

Tax and the director

  • What is the structure of a company?
  • What are the responsibilities of the board, the directors and staff?
  • To what extent do legal and contractual constraints represent ethical responsibilities?
  • What are the specifics of taxation within a company and whose job is it to manage them?
  • What ethical considerations of tax policy are required from companies?
  • What ethical considerations are required from public companies and smaller, non-public companies?
  • What should the board of a global corporation consider when dealing with tax policy?
  • What should the board of an owner managed business consider when dealing with tax policy?
  • What is whistleblowing?
  • Where does whistleblowing fit within the ethics of tax in a corporate environment?

Conflicts of interest

  • Who are the lawmakers?
  • What is the guidance for understanding and resolving ethical conflicts in tax?
  • Data gathering
  • Evaluation of data
  • Risk quantification and limitation
  • Constructive self-review
  • Stress test
  • Records for the future

Questions, questions

  • How may a firm expose partners and staff to risks?
  • What actions could firms take to reduce risks and ethical dilemmas in tax?
  • How could risks threaten the fundamental professional principles?

Ian Hayes is a chartered accountant and a chartered tax advisor. He is a tax practitioner of over 40 years standing and has advised on all taxes, capital, direct and indirect at national and international levels. During his career he has been partner in two firms, Armitage and Norton and Buzzacott.

He advised VAT America and Taxware, US digital tax suppliers, on EU VAT, and established two on-line agency businesses, Vatax Reclaim (now part of Vatit), dealing with VAT reclaims and Fiscal Solutions, which handles cross border VAT registrations and returns. He has also acted as in house tax adviser with Texaco. His clients have included governments, public organisations, multinational corporations, families, SMEs and charities.

In 2005, Ian focussed more on the public policy side of his interests. He is a member of the Professional Standards Board of CIOT and is joint author of "Towards greater fairness in Taxation, A model Taxpayer Charter".

He still acts in a consultant adviser role to select clients and professional firms, but much of his time is taken up with applied tax issues, especially in respect of ethics, the ethics of tax practice and digitalisation.

From 2001 to 2015 he sat on the Council of ICAEW and currently is a Council member of CIOT. He was a specialist adviser to HM Treasury and the Minister responsible for indirect taxation. From 2012 to 2017 he was one of the 16 business members of the EU VAT Forum.

Since 2011, Ian has been a Board member of CFE (Confederation Fiscal Europeenne), as Chair of the Professional Affairs committee, as First Vice President and, from 1 January 2019 as Chair of the Tax Technology Committee.

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ACCA partner with to provide high quality CPD for members. As an ACCA member, you are required to complete at least 40 relevant units of CPD each year, where one unit is equal to one hour. 21 units must be verifiable; the other 19 can be non-verifiable.

Verifiable CPD
Your course counts as verifiable CPD, if you can answer "yes" to these questions:

  1. Was the learning activity relevant to your career?
  2. Can you explain how you will apply the learning in the workplace?

You select courses that meet these criteria, and as you complete each course you get a CPD certificate so you can provide ACCA with the evidence that you undertook the learning activity.