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One minute with... Ali Kazimi

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What are you working on?
We are currently assisting a leading UK bank regularise their CDOT filing position and prepare for the fast-approaching CRS filing deadline. HMRC has already levied fines for non-compliance; accordingly, there is considerable pressure on senior management. We are increasingly seeing the SAO regime and banking code of practice provisions now informing the debate at bank boards. Over the next few weeks, in conjunction with our US office, we will be kicking-off several qualified intermediary compliance programmes across Europe for clients to meet the Responsible Officer reregistration deadline of 31 March 2017.
Also, I have a half-finished book review for a newspaper which needs to be completed this week. It is on a recently published book on the tax issues raised by the Panama papers, Panama leaks - A blessing in disguise: Offshore assets of Pakistani citizens by Syed Muhammad Shabbar Zaidi. The publication examines the conflict between secrecy and transparency, and challenges the prevalent view that equates confidentiality with tax misdemeanours.
How should tax policy for financial services evolve in light of Brexit?
Financial services account for approximately one-third of the UK economy. It is imperative that a clear signal is sent to indicate our commitment to this vitally important sector. The UK government needs to announce a comprehensive set of fiscal and regulatory incentives to retain and attract financial services firms to the UK. SDRT and IHT rules need urgent reform or repeal to enhance UK’s attraction as an investment location.
What measure in the Autumn statement caught your eye?
It is a positive sign that the government has shown a willingness to reform the banking levy. Following consultation, the exemption for certain UK liabilities relating to the funding of non-UK companies and non-UK branches was confirmed in the 2016 Autumn Statement. I was pleased to note that ‘the government will continue to consider the balance between revenue and competitiveness with regard to bank taxation, taking into account the implications of the UK leaving the EU’. I take that as a declaration of the government’s readiness to make business friendly decisions in light of the political and economic uncertainty of Brexit.
Are there any new tax measures that are of particular concern?
The wide ranging and extra-territoriality of the ‘failure to prevent’ tax evasion measures will make its implementation a challenging exercise. Most directors and senior managers are incredulous when we first explain these measures. The measures raise some interesting and potentially problematic issues from an accountability and board corporate governance perspective.
What do you regard as the most pressing regulatory requirement for the financial sector in 2017?
The automatic exchange of information requirements imposed in relation to reporting information to HMRC for outward exchange are reaching the stage where financial institutions should be moving from systems development and implementation into business as usual. Business can expect HMRC to start auditing these systems from this year, so it is imperative that financial institutions have the necessary governance in place to be able to demonstrate that their systems and procedures are robust and will deliver what is required under the regulations.
Finally, tell us something about yourself.
I have recently finished reading The future of the professions by Professor Richard Susskind and his son, Daniel. It is a fascinating read and I recommend it to all professionals. I wonder what the future holds for tax advisers... 
Issue: 1340
Categories: One minute with