Baker Tilly has warned that solicitors will need to act fast if they want to take advantage of HMRC’s latest campaign allowing them to bring their tax affairs up to date.
The Solicitors Tax campaign, launched by HMRC this week, is open to solicitors who have undisclosed income and have not paid the right amount of tax. The campaign will allow them to notify, disclose and pay what they owe, with mitigated penalties.
Solicitors will only have until 9 March 2015 to notify HMRC that they intend to make a voluntary disclosure under the scheme, and must make their disclosure and payment before 9 June 2015.
Over the past few years, HMRC has launched a number of similar campaigns to provide opportunities for people to voluntarily come forward and put their tax affairs in order. Examples have included campaigns targeting plumbers, electricians, doctors and dentists, e-traders, buy-to-let property owners, and private tutors including dance instructors. Since 2007, these initiatives have collected over £596 million in tax according to HMRC.
Jackie Hall, Tax Partner at Baker Tilly in Hull said: “Those with tax irregularities who don’t take advantage of this initiative could increase their risk of criminal investigation and prosecution as HMRC’s policy is to take a harder line against professionals such as solicitors who occupy a position of trust and should be expected to get their tax affairs right.
“Even without a criminal investigation, the outcome of an HMRC intervention can be career-threatening for solicitors if they are named and shamed.
“By coming forward voluntarily under this campaign and disclosing and cooperating fully, a solicitor who has deliberately failed to disclose his or her income or gains can take comfort from the fact that their details are unlikely to be made public.”