The accounting profession must communicate better with HMRC, says a leading tax investigator.

Andrew McKenna, a partner at Smith & Williamson, and the company’s head of tax investigations, said accountants should not be afraid to engage with HMRC. By doing so, he said during a speech in London, they will familiarise themselves more effectively with developments in the Treasury, including proposed tax raids on bank accounts.

McKenna, a former senior officer in HMRC’s special civic investigations unit, said:

“We have to get involved with, and get abreast of, what is going on in HMRC. We have got to make sure that we engage with HMRC and we have got to find a way to be involved, and to influence them in what they want to achieve.

“We need to show them that there might be a different way of doing things, rather than just loads of really severe measures.”

McKenna warned that HMRC are now looking to bypass the adviser and contact the individual directly and said he wanted to ensure everyone within the industry is aware of these potential changes.

He continued:

“[HMRC] has removed a lot of freedom for an individual dealing with a taxpayer to deal with the facts then come to a decision.

“They’ve taken away a lot of authority and responsibility from the frontline investigators. There’s frustration within the revenue, like there’s frustration out here. From my experience of talking to investigators, they’re not happy with the quality [of cases].”

The number of investigations conducted by HMRC has grown steadily over the past five years from 165 to 705 criminal investigations. This shows the tax man’s willingness to pursue cases of both tax evasion and avoidance.

Photo by HMRC