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At what point does tax planning become tax avoidance?

Michael Steed, Kaplan Tax Expert and President of the Association of Taxation Technicians

This very topic will be at the heart of Michael Steed’s new presidency at the Association of Taxation Technicians (ATT) in 2015.

A tax specialist and consultant at Kaplan, Michael is keen to promote a “responsible centre ground of tax planning”, and maintains that those who do not plan ahead (businesses or individuals) open themselves up to unintended and, often unfair, tax consequences.

In his speech at the ATT AGM, Michael announced his presidency theme: ‘Occupying the responsible centre ground of tax planning’ saying, “Tax is complicated. It is full of traps for the unwary – things you might do today that could inadvertently give you an unnecessary tax bill in a few years’ time.

He went on to say that the theme “reflects that the ATT has come of age” and that he feels that there needs to be some clarity over the somewhat blurred lines of ‘tax avoidance’ versus ‘tax planning’. This is something he and the professional body will be working on over the coming months, engaging with HMT and HMRC “in a polite but robust way to attempt to determine what they and we mean by such phrases”.

And we agree that Michael is certainly the man for the job – now a part of our Leadership and Professional Development team, he’s worked at Kaplan for the last nine years, imparting his specialist tax knowledge and commercial awareness gained over an interesting career including 15 years in international oil and gas exploration.

He’s also no stranger to leading debate; having joined the ATT Council in 2009 and sitting on its Technical Steering Group, as well as being a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Taxation, he is also a member of the AAT and was awarded the Past President’s Prize in 2004 for CPD services to the AAT.

So we wish Michael all the best in his important endeavour as he seeks to clear up the image of tax professionals everywhere, championing effective but responsible tax planning.

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