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Public trusts accountants over politicians on tax

Recent research has shown that, when it comes to tax systems, the public has greater trust in the professionals – including accountants and tax advisers – than it does in politicians and non-government organisations (NGOs).

The G20 Public trust in tax 2019 survey found that 55% of the general public report the highest level of trust in professional tax accountants, and 50% had trust in professional tax lawyers. However, 58% of respondents expressed distrust or strong distrust in politicians, albeit down 9% since 2017, and similarly, distrust in the media stands at 37%, down 4% since the last survey.

Experts at Whitley Stimpson, one of the largest independent accountancy practices in the area, with offices in Banbury, Bicester, High Wycombe and Witney, have responded to the findings with cautious optimism.

Jonathan Walton said: ‘What’s clear from this research is the need for all the significant players – from politicians to tax experts – to work together in building and sustaining the public’s trust in tax. On a more local level, the businesses and individuals who we work with also find the complexity of the tax system is a major issue. Their concerns include uncertainty, lack of transparency and the increasing costs related to taxes.”

The research supports Jonathan’s own findings as part of his MSc degree in taxation at Oxford University in the faculty of law which reveals that the public are divided on whether multinationals should be forced to publicly disclose their taxes on a country-by-country basis: 56% believe the information should only be provided to tax authorities in confidence, or not provided at all; the remaining 44% support public disclosure. However, there is strong majority support for tax incentives supporting retirement saving and green energy projects (around 70%), and a half of respondents are supportive of incentives to attract multinationals.

Jonathan, already an Oxford University graduate who holds an MBA from Reading University and MA in leadership studies from Exeter University concludes: “Tax changes and the complexity of the system have raised concerns about transparency, complexity and inequality.

“At Whitley Stimpson we have the skills and experience across all areas of the system, meaning we’re ideally placed to steer our clients through what can be a very complicated process.”

For further details, please contact Jonathan Walton, on 01295 270200 or jonathanw@whitleystimpson.co.uk