The Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners said its programme aims to assist national tax collectors in their fight against those intentionally avoiding tax and those who help them to do so.
STEP said the programme focuses on: “fighting abuse by simplifying tax systems; better designing taxes with an eye on potential abuse; more effective consultation on proposed tax changes; a clear responsibility on advisers to warn clients of the dangers of abusive schemes; and joint work between the tax authorities and professional bodies to develop a clear and consistent approach internationally to abusive tax avoidance.”
STEP Worldwide chairman, Michael Young, said: “Fair tax systems must include effective measures to counteract abuse and attitudes towards abusive tax avoidance are toughening across the world.
“Advisers have a responsibility to recognise this shift and give clients clear warnings of the risks of engaging in schemes that might be considered abusive. Those engaging in such schemes will be challenged by the tax authorities, receive little sympathy in court and may also be vulnerable to widespread adverse publicity.”
STEP’s programme comes in the wake of sustained criticism in the UK of wealthy individuals and corporations who intentionally avoid paying tax, particularly in a continuing period of recession.
The UK Treasury has also recently released plans for a raft of regulation aimed at dealing with tax avoidance, including proposals for a General Anti-Abuse Rule and earlier this week plans to allow HM Revenue & Customs to “name and shame” individuals aggressively avoiding tax.