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One minute with... Iain Campbell

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What’s keeping you busy at ARC?

ARC is still seeing the repercussions of an almost decade long virtual pay freeze (including an equal pay case in the middle of the legal process), plus the need to meet EU exit challenges and still do business as usual. This creates a lot of workplace pressures and some members not able to get a good work-life balance. We will also be looking to prepare another public event where we bring together tax professionals, academics, NGOs, MPs and other interested parties to discuss tax issues. (For details of one we ran on debunking tax myths, see

If you could make one change to law or practice, what would it be?

We should have a readers’ panel to look at the wording of all new legislation to ensure it makes sense to practitioners!

What advice would you give to those starting out in tax?

Usually mistakes are not the end of the world and can be sorted out – but don’t shy away from admitting when you’ve made one. Don’t worry if you’ve not got all the answers, but don’t pretend you do. And call out inappropriate behaviours, regardless of who it is.

How could the government better tackle avoidance?

Ensure HMRC has the right level of trained resources and support. Obviously, it’s not the case that every additional person will result in a proportionate increase in yield. A few years ago, we made a (costed) Budget submission that suggested for £312m the chancellor might get around £8bn. Additional investment was a view shared by others, including the various tax professional bodies, and the government responded with additional funds for HMRC. But we still believe some additional resource in key specialist areas could more than pay for itself.

Have any new tax rules caught your eye?

The ones on digital. Commentators have described these as imaginative, but they’re really making the best of a bad job. Speaking personally, I think BEPS has still some way to go to reduce the risks to national exchequers, and I suspect we probably really need a paradigm shift in how we look at tax across borders.

How do you see the tax profession and the wider debate on tax evolving?

It’s always seemed an anomaly that anyone can call themselves a tax adviser when they couldn’t for being an estate agent. It leads to real problems, such as poor quality advice and claims for refunds that are not justified. I know that the professional bodies are trying to do something. So I think there will be more pressure to formally regulate the provision of tax advice.

Destination based cash flow tax is an idea which I think will get more attention as the discussion on digital continues. There will be a shift in the wider public discussion on tax. Instead of being largely or solely focused on corporation tax, or transparency, it will broaden to include things like taxes on wealth, and the whole vexed area of employment tax. I can’t be the only person somewhat bemused by how the law led to the result in Pimlico.

And finally, you might not know this about me but…

As a poor student, I was paid £25 to queue for a week outside a furniture store over Christmas. It was to help someone buy a three-piece suite for I think 6d. Only when starting tax training did I worry about PAYE and then realised I was below all the thresholds! 

Issue: 1424
Categories: One minute with