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HMRC's latest campaign targets solicitors

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Solicitors are the latest professionals to come under scrutiny from HMRC with the launch of a new campaign urging solicitors to come forward and bring their tax affairs up to date. HMRC has had a lot of success with targeted campaigns aimed at different business sectors including plumbers, electricians, landlords, doctors and dentists. Close to an extra £1 billion of revenue has been collected to date; £596 million directly from the initiatives and £338 million from follow-up activities. HMRC consider targeted campaigns to be an essential part of their tax counter avoidance measures.

On 8 December 2014, HMRC launched a ‘Solicitors Tax Campaign’ urging solicitors to come forward and bring their tax affairs up to date.

A voluntary disclosure opportunity campaign is launched because HMRC have extensively researched the potential for its commercial success. HMRC use an extremely advanced computer system, “Connect”, which collates in information from a wide range of sources. Opening this campaign means HMRC would have collected enough evidence to show that solicitors are under declaring income.

Caroline Addison, head of campaigns for HMRC, said “Information gathered by HMRC has allowed us to identify solicitors who thought they could operate without declaring income and paying the taxes that others have to pay”. Ms Addison added that solicitors who come forward using this campaign will pay lower penalties and said “Those who make a deliberate decision not to pay the taxes due could face a penalty of 100 per cent or more of the tax due, or even a criminal prosecution.”

Ending with “Take this chance to come forward and put things right in a straightforward way and on the best possible terms. It will be easier and cheaper for you to come to us than for us to come to you.” Ms Addison has made it very clear the seriousness of this campaign and the consequences of not coming forward and disclosing tax liabilities.

This campaign gives solicitors who are employed, self-employed or partners the opportunity to bring their income and capital gains tax affairs up to date in a manner which is favourable for them. Solicitors only have until 9 March 2015 to notify HMRC that they wish to use the opportunity and must pay any taxes due by 9 June 2015 so it doesn’t leave solicitors with much time to act. Any solicitor who has tax irregularities and does not take the opportunity could face serious consequences professionally, financially and legally. HMRC are more likely to view knowledgeable professionals who evade tax as potential candidates for criminal prosecution on the principle they should have known better.

When in this position it is advised that professional support is sought. We have the technical experts and skilled negotiators in the field of managing disclosures of tax irregularities.

We can assist with robust representation while minimising disturbance to everyday life and protecting the professional reputation of firms.

If you have any concerns regarding your situation or would like further information do contact us in complete confidence. Email rachel@360legalgroup.co.uk or call 01275 465540.