Technical helpsheet to help ICAEW members to decide whether or not it is appropriate to resign a tax appointment close to the submission deadline.
This helpsheet has been issued by ICAEW’s Technical Advisory Service to help ICAEW members to decide whether or not it is appropriate to resign a tax appointment close to the submission deadline where the client has not been forthcoming with the required information.
Members may also wish to refer to the following related helpsheets:
Although this helpsheet considers tax deadlines similar considerations apply to other types of work performed by a professional accountant.
Members have the right to choose for whom they act. It follows that members also have the right to cease to act, but before resigning close to a deadline, you should consider the implications.
Where a client has engaged you to do their tax return but has provided you with either no information to enable you to do this or information which is of insufficient quality or quantity, it may seem easier to resign than continue with the engagement.
There are however ethical and professional considerations such as compliance with the fundamental principles outlined in the ICAEW Code of Ethics (specifically section 115 – Professional behaviour), the need to provide a competent professional service, and not prejudice the clients’ interests.
If you consider resignation to be the most appropriate course of action then:
- Clearly set out the reason why you are resigning;
- Clearly inform the client of upcoming filing dates and penalties (if applicable);
- Summarise mitigation strategies e.g. up-front tax payments (if applicable); and
- Contact HMRC to cancel your agent authorisation – you should inform your client you have done this (HMRC has published guidance on How to change or cancel authorisations as an agent).
It is important to recognise that your decision to resign may leave the client feeling dissatisfied and may even lead to a complaint. To protect yourself from potential criticism it is sensible to document the steps you have taken to obtain the information in a timely manner. This record will support your decision to resign and is likely to include any relevant supporting evidence such as:
- An initial client acceptance clearly setting out the expectations of both parties regarding timeframes and specific deadlines by which information needs to be provided. This should explain the consequences of not meeting these deadlines including additional fees and the fines/penalties associated with late submission, as well as the possibility of your resignation and the circumstances under which this would take place.
- Further reminders prior to each deadline.
- Chasers following each deadline reminding the client that the timeframes agreed previously are now jeopardised and that the required information should be sent as soon as possible.
- Notice of resignation, referencing the circumstances described in 1.
It is key that the client should not be able to show that they have been unduly disadvantaged. The above will offer a degree of protection if a complaint is made.
Errors and irregularities
If the circumstances of your resignation involve error, irregularities or potential suspicious activity please refer to Professional conduct in relation to taxation (PCRT) and the CCAB Anti-money laundering guidance for the accountancy sector.
If in doubt seek advice
ICAEW members, affiliates, ICAEW students and staff in eligible firms with member firm access can discuss their specific situation with the Ethics Advisory Service on +44 (0)1908 248 250 or via webchat.
© ICAEW 2021 All rights reserved.
ICAEW cannot accept responsibility for any person acting or refraining to act as a result of any material contained in this helpsheet. This helpsheet is designed to alert members to an important issue of general application. It is not intended to be a definitive statement covering all aspects but is a brief comment on a specific point.
ICAEW members have permission to use and reproduce this helpsheet on the following conditions:
- This permission is strictly limited to ICAEW members only who are using the helpsheet for guidance only.
- The helpsheet is to be reproduced for personal, non-commercial use only and is not for re-distribution.
For further details members are invited to telephone the Technical Advisory Service T +44 (0)1908 248250. The Technical Advisory Service comprises the technical enquiries, ethics advice, anti-money laundering and fraud helplines. For further details visit icaew.com/tas.
- 01 Jan 2020 (12: 00 AM GMT)
- First published
- 23 Dec 2020 (12: 01 PM GMT)
- Changelog created, helpsheet converted to new template
- 23 Dec 2020 (12: 02 PM GMT)
- Updated CCAB link in Errors and irregularities section Updated text of If in doubt seek advice section