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CFE Discussion Paper: “If It Is Legal, Is It Acceptable?” – An Ethics Quality Bar for All Advisers

Against the backdrop of recent actions by governments and lawmakers, such as the G7 agreement on minimal global corporation tax and anti-tax avoidance initiatives of the EU, CFE has issued a discussion paper founded on its commitment to high professional standards in tax advice seeking to promote ethical professional judgment across all tax advisers in Europe. While tax advisers play a valuable role in the proper functioning of tax systems, this role can be undermined by the promotion of abusive tax arrangements within legal parameters.
If it is legal, is it acceptable?” is the central ethical question which inspired this paper. It is distinct from criminal tax evasion – breaking the law – which CFE unequivocally condemns. The question comes down to whether there is manipulation and artificiality in tax planning. CFE has issued this paper to stimulate discussion on how to tackle this problem among all who have an interest in how our tax systems function in Europe, not just tax specialists.
Setting an Ethics Quality Bar 
This paper is focused on the future, noting that tax systems will play a key role in repairing the strained public finance conditions after the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the growing transformational impact of technology on tax services and tax administration overall. The principal objective of the paper is to seek feedback on a proposed “ethics quality bar” based on five questions that all tax advisers should reflect on when undertaking their advisory role in the overall tax system.
CFE seeks views on whether the questions can help to steer all advisers in the direction of an appropriate balance between the rights and obligations of taxpayers, avoiding abusive planning. To that end, a series of stakeholder events will be announced in due course. 
Ref. CFE’s Tax Top 5 – 21 June 2021

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