STEP's Public Policy Committee leads the development of public policy initiatives across the Society. We participate in a number of stakeholder groups and committees, including: Financial Action Task Force; OECD Business and Industry Advisory Committee; various EU Expert Groups; UK Charity Tax Forum; and the UK High Net Worth Unit External Stakeholder Forum. STEP also engages regularly with policymakers and other stakeholders on an ad hoc basis when important issues related to our members’ work advising families on inheritance and related issues are being considered.
STEP supports the principle of effective measures to prevent money laundering.
STEP recognises that a fair tax system must include effective measures to combat evasion and criminal or terrorist financing.
Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) is a global problem which refers to corporations who use tax avoidance strategies to exploit gaps in tax rules.
The European Succession Regulation (Regulation) came into force on 17 August 2015 for the estates of persons who die on or after that date.
We have clearly-articulated positions on issues of importance to families: from improving standards in will writing to the development of fair, transparent and consistent tax rules to give families the confidence to make long-term plans. We have outlined our position on key issues below.
- We deplore and strongly oppose any form of corruption and the significant harm it causes society
- We play a vital role in training, educating and supporting our members to uphold high levels of integrity and ethical standards.
- We stand united in the fight against corruption in all its forms and are committed to sharing knowledge, skills and intelligence with our counterparts and agencies fighting financial corruption.
- STEP, alongside a number of other professional bodies, signed an anti-corruption statement in May 2016 – the full statement is available here (PDF 212KB)
- Financial crime
- STEP fully supports efforts of governments and international bodies in tackling financial crime. We regularly highlight risk factors to policymakers that may impact the effectiveness of their policies and help to find solutions.
- We want gaps in the financial system that can be exploited by criminals to be closed. This can be achieved by simpler tax systems, more cross-border collaboration to reduce complexity, and ensuring all jurisdictions are held to the same standards.
- Money laundering
- We support the principle of effective measures to combat money laundering and have worked constructively with national governments, international entities such as the EU and other third parties to develop practical and effective mechanisms to combat money laundering.
- We believe that the enforcement of rigorous standards on trust and company service providers has a key role to play in combatting money laundering. However all enforcement must be practical and proportionate and should avoid becoming too burdensome for the supervisor.
- It is important that measures to combat money laundering respect families’ basic rights to legitimate confidentiality in their financial and personal affairs and ensure that sensitive financial information is not vulnerable to abuse.
- We have concerns regarding publicly accessible registers of beneficial owners of family trusts: many such trusts are created to protect the interests of vulnerable family members who will be at high risk of abuse of information if their financial status is widely available to the public. Any information should only be accessed if it is deemed as ‘necessary’ by the relevant authority.
- We advocate that rigorous safeguards and robust mechanisms must be in place where information is accessible to anyone other than the competent authority.
- We condemn tax evasion and all other forms of criminal activity. We equally condemn those who seek to facilitate tax evasion and criminal activity.
- We support the right of individuals and other taxable entities to arrange their financial affairs to minimise their tax liability within the law.
- We advocate clear and coordinated tax laws: ‘abusive’ efforts to minimise or negate taxes often exploit ambiguities in tax systems.
- Too often, for political expediency, piecemeal reforms are implemented that lead to gaps in the system that enable them to be exploited. Equally, anti-abuse legislation is often introduced reactively to an existing short-term political issue that fails to tackle the real problems. These problems can be avoided by governments engaging in effective and open consultation with all affected parties before legislating, and implementing tax reform in a coordinated and structured manner.
- It is important to ensure that international initiatives to improve tax transparency and combat tax evasion are proportionate and have strong legal guarantees that the information exchanged will be secure and used legitimately by the relevant authority.
- STEP members who advise on UK tax matters must adhere to guidance on Professional Conduct in Relation to Taxation as a condition of membership.
- We believe everyone should be encouraged to make a will so that their money, property and possessions will pass on as they would wish after their death and to avoid any unforeseen complications for family members.
- Consumers should have confidence that will writers are appropriately trained and professionally competent. In the absence of regulation in this area in many jurisdictions, STEP promotes high professional standards and integrity to our members through our codes of conduct.
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