Taking on the taxman
When faced with a tax problem, you might think that the first port of call would be your accountant. In many cases, you would be right but in many situations a tax lawyer can be indispensable either as a frontline adviser or as a valuable second opinion on your accountant's advice.
Why does a tax lawyer do?
The tax lawyer's role is two-fold – to advise on the legality or otherwise of structuring your affairs, to mitigate tax and to advise and represent you should you come into conflict with the Inland Revenue. While the law is still overwhelmingly on the side of the Inland Revenue, the introduction of the Human Rights Act and the ever-growing complexity of tax law have given tax lawyers increasing amounts of rope to work with and a good tax lawyer is an increasingly important weapon in the armoury.
Avoiding tax evasion
Common areas of tax law advice include inheritance tax planning, dealing with international tax issues, advice on putting assets offshore and assessing the extent to which individuals are subject to UK taxes, (being 'non-domiciled' in the UK can led to significant tax savings). Crucially, a tax lawyer will help to you stay on the right side of the line between tax avoidance and tax evasion – the former will significantly expand your wallet while the latter may get you banged up.
Dealing with the Inland Revenue
Many lawyers are able to give basic advice on taxation and dealing with the Inland Revenue, but for more complicated matters, the specialists are found in commercial law firms, at specialist private client firms which deal with wealthy families and regional firms with strong private client departments. There are also a number of high-skilled tax practitioners at the Bar - many of these can only be instructed through a solicitor, although some will accept direct instructions.