Lots of accountants helping clients across the country are not members of professional bodies. One example of such a professional body is the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland, another being the Institute of Certified Book Keepers.
Accountants and book-keepers will be breaking the law if they do not register with the Revenue by September 30
New money-laundering rules mean that those accountants will be committing offences if they operate after January 1, 2009 without having registered with the Revenue under these new rules.
Importantly however, the deadline for submitting the application is next week — September 30. This allows the Revenue three months to get you registered.
By way of background, unless a business is quite a big limited company it does not need its accountant to be chartered or certified. In other words their accountant might hold no specific professional qualifications.
This is not to say they do a bad job, or a worse one than chartered accountants, but simply to state as a fact that many accountants are not affiliated to professional bodies.
These new rules affect not only accountants. They cover what are referred to as ASPs — Accountancy Service Providers. In fact the sorts of businesses covered include the following:
This is quite a wide range. It includes book-keepers, so if someone is paid to help you with your business books, yet is not a member of staff on your payroll (tax and NIC being deducted) then they are caught.
If your book-keeper does not want to have to register under these rules then they have a stark choice.
Stop working for you or else become a part-time employee of your business, losing all the appropriate tax and NIC each pay-day.
The effect of the new rules is that the Accountancy Service Providers must submit registration forms to the Revenue by September 30, 2008. They must also pay a fee, which is due each year.
The fee is £95 per set of premises — so it could mount up if you have a few offices. The form to accompany the fee is not very onerous to fill in.
The main way to be excluded from this registration is if you belong to a professional body and it regulates you.
The list of professional bodies for the purposes of this rule is at Appendix 1 of the Revenue’s booklet MLR 9. You can view the whole booklet at http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/mlr/mlr|9.pdf
This document is important for anyone who might need to register.
It answers a lot of the questions you might have.
If you perform accountancy services after January 1, 2009 and you are neither a member of the listed bodies nor registered under these arrangements, then you are committing an offence.
Since there is so much importance placed on money-laundering regulations these days, I would not recommend you become one of the players not playing by the rules.
Required reading on this subject is on the Revenue’s site at http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/mlr/reg- |summary.htm
Adrian Huston, a former tax inspector, is a director of Belfast tax and accountancy firm Huston & Co – www.hustontax.com or (028) 9080-6080