Raymond Doherty 30 Jan 2018 01:57pm

Accountants don’t need “Hippocratic oath”, says Izza

The accountancy profession already follows a code of ethics, says ICAEW chief executive Michael Izza

Last week, Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell proposed accountants take a “Hippocratic oath” to tackle tax avoidance.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, McDonnell said PwC, Deloitte, KPMG and EY were not doing enough to tackle tax dodging. A solution, he suggested, was for tax advisors to take a pledge to not promote or use avoidance schemes.

However, Izza pointed out that, in addition to being subject to legal requirements, chartered accountants and members of other professional accountancy bodies are required to follow a professional code of ethics.

“This includes guidance for Professional Conduct in Relation to Tax – endorsed by HMRC – which sets out the high ethical standards that underpin the tripartite relationship between tax adviser, client, and HMRC,” he wrote in City A.M.

“This code, which enshrines fundamental principles like integrity and objectivity, is regularly updated to reflect changes both to the law and the expectations of society.”

Izza added that a third of registered tax advisers are not members of any professional body, and suggested that if politicians truly wish to get tough and raise standards, “ensuring that the high bar set by the chartered profession is applied across the board would be a good start.”

The Big Four firms all declined to comment on McDonnell’s proposal.