Skip to main content

Global Ethics Board Raises Expectations of Ethical Conduct in Tax Planning

Proposes ethical framework to guide judgments and behaviors of professional accountants when providing tax planning and related services

Feb 17, 2023 | New York, NY | English

The International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants (IESBA) today released for public comment the Exposure Draft Proposed Revisions to the Code Addressing Tax Planning and Related Services.

The proposed revisions respond to public interest concerns about tax avoidance and the role played by consultants, including professional tax advisers, in light of revelations in recent years such as the Paradise and Pandora Papers. The proposals strengthen the ethical expectations for professional accountants in business and in public practice when performing tax planning activities for employing organizations or providing tax planning services to clients, respectively.

“The accountancy profession plays a trusted role in facilitating the efficient and effective operation of a jurisdiction’s tax system and in making it a pillar of the economic system,” said IESBA Chair Ms. Gabriela Figueiredo Dias. “However, it is crucial that there are clear and robust ethical guardrails when professional accountants assist their employing organizations’ and clients’ tax planning to safeguard the public interest. These timely proposals are also designed to provide professional accountants with practical guidance to navigate the ethical challenges in this complex area.”

Among other matters, the proposed ethical framework:

  • Explains the types of threats to compliance with the fundamental ethics principles of the Code that might be created when professional accountants are involved in tax planning.
  • Sets a clear principle that professional accountants recommend or otherwise advise on a tax planning arrangement only if they have determined that there is a credible basis in laws and regulations for it.
  • Requires consideration of the reputational, commercial and wider economic consequences that could arise from the way stakeholders might view the tax planning arrangement before determining whether to proceed with the recommendation or advice.
  • Provides practical guidance to assist professional accountants in navigating situations of uncertainty when carrying out tax planning.
  • Deals with other practical matters, including disagreement with the client or management or those charged with governance, and documentation.

The development of the proposals has been informed by extensive fact finding and outreach to stakeholders, including three global roundtables held in April 2022.

How to Comment 
The IESBA invites all stakeholders to comment on the Exposure Draft by visiting the 
IESBA’s website. Comments are requested by May 18, 2023.

Global Webinars
The IESBA will hold three webinars where members of the Tax Planning and Related Services Task Force will explain the key proposals in the exposure draft. The webinars will be held virtually on: