A tax consultant, or tax adviser, is a specialist in tax law that helps clients with their tax matters. Tax consultants are usually instructed by individuals
to advise on general tax matters, to help individuals to prepare and file their tax returns and to try and minimise the amount of tax the individuals pay where
Tax consultants can give companies advice on their structure and, in some countries, are required to verify the balance sheets of companies above a certain size.
Guidelines covering the conduct of professionals advising on matters of taxation are published in conjunction with the Chartered Institute of Taxation, the Institute
of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and the
Association of Taxation Technicians.
The guidelines, which include practical advice about a range of legal and ethical issues, are summarised as follows:
A member’s primary duty is to ensure that his actions comply with the law. He owes a contractual duty to the client to act for him with the requisite degree
of skill and care, and the contractual relationship should be governed by a letter of engagement. The member also has duties to the tax authorities, notably
of compliance with the law and the honest presentation of his client’s circumstances.
It is the taxpayer’s responsibility to ensure that returns made to the tax authorities are correct and complete. It is for the member to assist him to decide
on the extent and manner of disclosure of facts in relation to his tax affairs.
Where a member becomes aware that irregularities have occurred in relation to a client’s tax affairs, he should advise the client of the consequences, and the
manner of disclosure. If necessary, appropriate specialist advice should be taken.
Where a client refuses to follow the advice of a member in relation to issues involving disclosure, the member should consider whether he should continue to
act. If appropriate, specialist advice should be taken.
If mistakes are made by the tax authorities there may be a need, and in some cases a duty, on the part of the client and sometimes the member, to put matters
Members may have statutory duties of disclosure where they have suspicions of criminal activity.
When approached for information on a client’s affairs by another adviser the member should ensure that he has his client’s authority before making any disclosure.