Why is the accounting profession acting in the interests of tax avoiders and tax havens?

Country-by-country tax reporting is, I’m told, the logical requirement from Mark Carney’s extraordinary speech about wealth inequality last week.

He shied away from demanding it; now the accountancy industry is doing the same.

Go on, lemmings – over the cliff.**

Those who were at the Global Tax Transparency Summit yesterday heard me speak early in the day on the almost inevitable subject of country-by-country reporting.

Chas Roy-Chowdhury of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (the largest UK based accounting body) offered a typical woolly accounting professional explanation for why transparency may not be such a good idea after all. Chas in this way typifies his profession. If given the chance to deny the user of accounts information they might need he takes it, however he might disguise that fact.

This was enough excuse for me to highlight the obvious paradox of the day. The Global Tax Transparency Summit took place with the support of parliamentarians from around thirty countries.

And not a single accounting professional took to the podium during the day to explain the role of the accounting profession on this issue. The ACCA and ICAEW were in the audience, the latter being silent, as ever. But the IFRS Foundation, Financial Reporting Council and other regulators with responsibility for ensuring that financial statements deliver relevant, reliable, consistent, comparable and comprehensible information to their users were notable by their absence. And I chose to point this out.

I am profoundly ashamed of the fact that my own profession refuses to engage on this issue. I think it negligent on their part that they will not discuss the most important accounting issue of our day. I am furious that they simply claim that country-by-country reporting is just tax data and not accounting information at all, as one very senior Big Four firm accountant told me during the day, when this is utter nonsense: since when was data on turnover, profits, accounting provisions for tax, investment and employment tax data? This is just an excuse to justify opacity.

Source: Tax Research UK » Why is the accounting profession acting in the interests of tax avoiders and tax havens?

*Vox Political’s web host went down for several hours between Friday and Saturday (December 9-10), meaning I could not write a number of stories and am now labouring to catch up. For that reason, any comment on current news stories is likely to be short, and as to-the-point as possible.

Hopefully normal service will resume soon.

**Yes, I know the lemmings in that film were being chased over the cliff by a Disney movie crew. Do you think the accountants aren’t being chased into an untenable position too?

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5 thoughts on “Why is the accounting profession acting in the interests of tax avoiders and tax havens?

  1. Jt Zoonie

    I had my own business that’s what you pay them for. And that’s how they earn there money. By helping you pay out less of what your earning. It’s there job.
    What is needed is the government to tighten the rules.but still the job of an accountant will be to do what they do

  2. Tony Dean

    “Why is the accounting profession acting in the interests of tax avoiders and tax havens?”

    Because they make a lot of money doing so?

  3. heaplinda

    It’s because they service tax avoiders. They write the tax laws so they know how to subvert them. Expecting anything critical from the accountancy profession in general would be like asking turkeys to vote for Christmas. Some individuals such as Richard Murphy and Prem Sikka have spoken out but who is listening?

  4. casalealex

    I may be wrong, but have always thought that those who avoid paying taxes and use offshore havens in this avoidance, make use of accountants to support or actively encourage and promote said unacceptable or improper behaviour.

  5. Dan Delion

    The image of the Union Jack to the right of Mr Hammond seems to indicate both the direction of travel for the state of hard-working UK citizens and the general opinion they now have of accountants – similar to that of estate agents!

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