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By Kiana WilburgTax preparers, many of whom are professional accountants, are considered to be one of the cornerstonesChartered Accountant, Shawn Naughtonto an efficient and more often than not, successful tax system. The honesty and integrity of the tax preparers are kept in check by severe penalties imposed by most countries when those preparers (and thus their clients) do not comply with the relevant laws.In an interview with Chartered Accountant Shawn Naughton, we explored the importance of tax preparers, how other tax administrations work with accountants and other tax returns, and to what standards they should be held.Naughton is of the belief that, locally, more work has to be done with regards to the relationship the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) needs to have with accountants and other tax preparers.To start things off,Wholesale Jerseys Authentic, he said that it is important for one to consider the current level of compliance by self-employed taxpayers with the tax laws in Guyana.He noted that the 2013 Auditor General Report states that although there were 75,992 active self-employed persons in Guyana, only 33,740 filed taxes in that year. He said that this means that only 44 percent of self-employed taxpayers filed tax returns.Naughton asserted,Jerseys NFL China, “If we assume correctly, in that most self-employed taxpayers use accounting advisors and accounting services, then we must assume that we also have a serious tax compliance concern with regards to those who provide these services to the majority of self-employed taxpayers”.The Chartered Accountant noted that during the 2016 budget, the Government responded by proposing changes to the tax laws which it felt would address this problem. He said that the government proposed changes stating that “the Tax Act would be amended to ensure that prior to the issuance of all licences for public use, including licences to conduct forms of trade and business, the applicant has complied with his/her obligations to file annual returns and paid, or has made arrangements to pay, all taxes due and payable.”Naughton believes that the suggested legal changes are a good start.  He asserted that the proposed changes, coupled with changes in enforcement laws, should help with compliance. He noted however, that no changes were suggested to address the “tax preparers” who are an integral part of taxpayer compliance.He said, “I will touch on yet another developed tax administration’s system of penalties and its approach to the enforcement of its tax laws, while discussing the important role of accountants and other tax preparers in that country’s tax system, in a bit.”“The fact of the matter is that it is obvious by the low rate of return submissions by self-employed taxpayers,NFL Jerseys China Cheap, as reported by the Auditor General, that these taxpayers do not mind not being compliant with tax laws.”Naughton said that statistics on compliance by self-employed taxpayers to licencing laws are not available, but he suspects that this would also indicate a mindless attitude by taxpayers to having licences for their businesses.“In short, we would need to vehemently enforce licencing laws for these taxpayers to see the need for complying with return filing laws.  Because of resource limitations, both in quality and quantity, for administering enforcement laws,Cheap Jerseys From China, systems requiring minimum effort while achieving maximum efficiency would be most appropriate.  The traffic ticket system (for traffic offences) perfectly demonstrates the kind of efficiency I refer to.”Naughton emphasized that tax compliance is not simply the filing of paperwork. He explained that the information submitted in, or attached to, the returns need to comply with all relevant tax laws.He said that the average of $98,000 (or $8,000 per month) tax revenue per self-employed taxpayer, as reported by the Auditor General for 2013,NFL Jerseys Cheap, is an indication that even though returns are being filed, tax laws are not always being complied with.Naughton said that the many penalty regimes written into law are indicative of the importance attached to complying with tax laws and not just filing valueless paperwork.According to the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), the tax authorities in most countries around the world have introduced the requirement for tax preparer licencing for those who prepare tax returns. This allows the tax administration the ability to provide focused attention on, and assistance to those preparing tax returns.The OECD considers these tax preparers to be an integral part of the tax system, and as such the tax preparers are held to a high standard in regards to compliance. In many countries, penalties applicable to tax preparers are severe and often include imprisonment.The following was extracted from the Canada Revenue Agency website “As governments throughout the world review their processes to determine better ways to reduce non-compliance, a greater emphasis is being placed on the important role played by tax preparers.” The OECD analyzed the important role that tax preparers play in tax compliance throughout the world and encourages tax administrations to consider strategies that build on their relationships with tax preparers.”Naughton said that in Canada,Cheap Soccer Jerseys Authentic, tax preparers who knowingly or recklessly prepare tax returns, are often penalized and/or charged with the tax sought to be avoided or evaded by their self-employed clients.He said that the penalties range from 25 percent to 200 percent of the tax evaded and prison time of up to two years. The Chartered Accountant said that similar laws are in place in many other countries around the world.“Since 2000, 19 tax preparers have been assessed; (with) nearly CAN$1.7M in third party penalties.   Audits of 15 tax preparers are currently underway,” says the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) release.Naughton noted too that tax preparers have been identified by CRA as a group at higher risk of tax non-compliance. He said that indeed, they are one of three areas targeted for special prosecution through a special CRA initiative labeled “Project Trident.” (http://www.moneysense.ca/save/taxes/tax-preparers-behaving-badly/)In a Canadian tax case, Naughton said that Jeannine Guindon was assessed a preparers’ penalty in the amount of CAN$564,747 by the CRA.   Ms. Guindon was a family attorney who ventured into work on tax law without the requisite tax law expertise (in such a case the engagement should be referred to a tax specialist; we should not accept engagements we lack the competence to handle).Naughton related that false statements were made which resulted in an illegal tax benefit being received by the client. The penalty under which Ms. Guindon was assessed is applicable whether the professional knew the statement made by the client was false or would reasonably be expected to know, but for circumstances amounting to culpable conduct.He said that Ms. Guindon was therefore assessed on the basis that she made the false statements to CRA.   Naughton said that Ms. Guindon was successful, at a lower court, in arguing that criminal proceedings should have been applied to the case instead of the civil standards which were applied (a constitutional issue). (http://www.pushormitchell.com/2013/02/tax-court-canada-finds-third-party-penalties-are-criminal-sanctions/) The fine of CAN$564,747 was however restored against Ms. Guindon on appeal. (http://www.thecourt.ca/2015/09/guindon-v-canada-its-just-a-fine/).The Chartered Accountant said that Guyana has a very similar tax law in place that should be effective, provided it has government’s support together with the support of the judiciary.Naughton said that a well developed country always has at its heart, a well run Finance Ministry,nfl jerseys cheap, Tax Administration and Judiciary. He stressed that these three government institutions all have to work together in order for a country to succeed.He pointed out that Guyana’s penalty regime, which provides for 200 percent or 300 percent of the tax avoided/evaded to be charged against the preparer plus a period of imprisonment, compares favourably with regimes of countries with developed tax systems such as Canada.He concluded that there is therefore no reason why it should not be effective at improving “real” tax compliance if effectively enforced.
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