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One minute with... Tina Riches

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How did you end up in tax?

On a secondment into tax from the Coopers & Lybrand audit department, I realised this was something not only intellectually challenging and varied, but which clients actually wanted and even thanked us for!

Who in tax do you most admire?

Where to start! My first tax manager at KPMG, John Boffin, who taught me that the tax tail must not wag the dog – something very relevant today; John Whiting, who for seven years tried to teach me how to be concise and see the bigger picture; the CIOT technical team, which always punches above its weight; and Richard Mannion, my predecessor at Smith & Williamson, who epitomised the ethos here of incredible professionalism and client service (and always with his own particular jokes!).

You’ve recently joined Smith & Williamson. How do you see its tax team evolving?

The world of tax is changing. HMRC is changing, and our national tax team will need to support the firm as it evolves, so that we all work more smartly with HMRC – from handling enquiries and reaching agreement on technical issues through to how the IT systems of HMRC and tax agents interact with each other.

What are you working on?

I am trying to keep on top of new developments in tax across the board to disseminate these through the firm, and I’m trying to get out and about and develop my knowledge of the firm, while keeping an eye on professional standards, with an element of an internal policeman, yet ensuring this complements and does not interfere with client service. 

What advice would you give to someone entering the profession?

There is never a stupid question! Most people develop a specialism, but before that get as much experience as you can across the board.

Name a recent trend in tax.

A hardening attitude from HMRC.

What are the key points to watch in the draft 2014 Finance Bill?

The partnership legislation will be key in the private client and professional services areas. Firms with structures designed for commercial purposes that mitigate the risks other structures lead to (such as profit motivation superseding client care), will need to be very clear on the implications for them.

If you could make one change to UK tax law, what would it be?

Take on board the recent OTS report into partnerships. There needs to be greater acceptance that partnerships are key business structures, from small firms without the resources to cope with a corporate structure, through to large professional firms that need participation from a large number of senior individuals.

What’s your view on the PAC?

It has performed a key role in flagging up topical issues, though a wholly evidence-based approach would make its conclusions more persuasive.

You might not know this about me but...

I have ‘swum the Channel’ several times (in my local pool, in 2km chunks) to raise money for Aspire, the spinal injuries charity. Also, I speak a little Mandarin and was in my element horse-riding across the Mongolian desert (never having been on a horse before!)