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October 25, 2017updated 21 Jan 2021 1:24pm

Letter to the editor: ACCA comment on the Maturity Institute report

The comments presented by the Maturity Institute are unsubstantiated and untrue, as any more than cursory look at ACCA’s Code of Ethics, Rulebook, disciplinary process and Professional Conduct in Relation to Taxation requirements would demonstrate.

A summarised version of the materials which belie each of the Maturity Institute’s claims is included below:

"In its report the Maturity Institute also criticised professional bodies for failing to enforce standards and safeguard integrity. In particular the report questions the ACCA code of ethics “which puts no responsibility on accountants to put society first”."

This assertion is entirely untrue: ACCA requires all students, members and affiliates and firms to act in the public interest at all times. ACCA’s Code of Ethics outlines that the accountancy profession as a whole holds a responsibility to act in the public interest. Section 100.1 elaborates that, therefore, “a professional accountant’s responsibility is not exclusively to satisfy the needs of an individual client or employer.”

 

"It said it had found no evidence in the ACCA’s code of ethics to suggest that the ACCA tackles the question of immorality or ethics when it comes to taxation and that as long as members are compliant with the law that is enough."

ACCA, in collaboration with all other leading UK accountancy and tax bodies, outlines the high ethical standards expected of tax advisers and agents via the Professional Conduct in Relation to Taxation (PCRT).  The PCRT, which has been in existence for over 20 years and is regularly updated, is supported by the UK government and endorsed by HMRC. It is entirely consistent with the Code of Ethics and Conduct, which is underpinned by clear fundamental ethical principles.

The PCRT requires all tax professionals to act with integrity and professional competence. On tax planning arrangements, the PCRT outlines that “members must not create, encourage or promote tax planning arrangements or structures that i) set out to achieve results that are contrary to the clear intention of Parliament in enacting relevant legislation and/or ii) are highly artificial or highly contrived and seek to exploit shortcomings within the relevant legislation.”

The ACCA Rulebook states that all ACCA members are expected to comply with the laws and regulations of their jurisdiction: in the UK, the PCRT is one of these.

 

"“No accountants have been struck off when partners are fined. Instead ‘severe reprimand’ is typically the order of the day,” the report read."

A case against a relevant person will be presented before a Disciplinary Committee where there is case to answer against the relevant person and it is in the public interest to do so. The Disciplinary Committee is independent of ACCA.

Hearings of the Disciplinary Committee are open to the public. The procedures to be followed at disciplinary hearings are set out in ACCA’s Complaints and Disciplinary Regulations and in the Guideline Disciplinary Sanctions. The Guideline Disciplinary Sanctions clearly set out the framework for decision making and the wide range of sanctions available to the Disciplinary Committee.

Decisions of ACCA’s Disciplinary Committees are published on ACCA’s website.

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