Tax Law

Individuals and businesses need specialist tax solicitors to provide advice, offer solutions, and ensure compliance.

Find out how we can help

Our team of tax lawyers work closely with clients to provide specialist tax advice.
 

As global tax law becomes increasingly complicated, compliance becomes ever more pertinent. Individuals and businesses therefore need specialist tax solicitors to provide advice, offer solutions, and in some instances, react to changes brought about by enhanced or revised tax legislation and treaties.

Advice from a team of specialist tax lawyers

Our specialist tax team is made up of lawyers from a number of practice areas across the firm, each bringing their own expertise to advise clients in a number of ways, including:

  • Compliance, reporting and disclosure.
  • Contentious tax matters.
  • Private client advice, including the tax residence status of individuals, estate planning for families with interests in multiple jurisdictions and for those with existing trusts or other tax efficient structures already in place.
  • Pre and post immigration tax advice for individuals including the movement of personal goods to the UK.
  • Assistance for individuals or businesses under investigation by HMRC.
  • Tax planning and advice in relation to business assets.
  • Corporate and commercial matters, including mergers & acquisitions, restructurings and contracts.
  • Real estate advice, including structuring and advising on freehold, leasehold and development matters.

Our team of specialist tax solicitors advise clients in relation to:

Corporate Tax

We advise on all aspects of corporation tax, income tax, NICs, capital gains tax, VAT, stamp duty and stamp duty land tax in the UK, and act for buyers and sellers on a variety of commercial and corporate transactions in a range of sectors. These transactions include:

  • mergers and acquisitions (where our work encompasses negotiating the allocation of tax risk in the transaction documents and advising selling shareholders on the tax implications of their sale with a particular emphasis on the availability of business asset disposal relief for individuals and the substantial shareholding exemption for corporates);
  • joint ventures (where our work includes advice on structuring and on tax transparency where appropriate);
  • corporate reorganisations (where our work includes establishing that no unnecessary tax charges are triggered);
  • structuring of investments and fund-raising by companies (where our work includes advising on whether EIS and SEIS tax reliefs are available to make the investment more attractive to potential investors);
  • general commercial agreements (where our work includes advice on the VAT implications of the proposed agreement and in particular whether there is a VAT cost or VAT recoverability issue);  and, 
  • the structuring of employee incentives, including those that carry tax advantages (such as EMI share options). We offer a full service, able to draft incentives, explain them to staff (if wanted), agree valuations with HM Revenue & Customs (where that service is available), assist you with any HM Revenue & Customs notification requirements and, in future, assist you with events such as the exercise of the share options.

We pride ourselves on working closely with our colleagues and our clients’ other advisers with the aim of providing clear and pragmatic tax advice which, crucially, complements the commercial objectives of whatever transaction or agreement we are working on.

Contact Matt Spencer or Alison Middleton to find out more.

 

Employment tax

We advise on a variety of employment tax issues including:

  • the structuring of employee incentives, including those that carry tax advantages (such as EMI share options). We offer a full service, and are able to draft incentives, explain them to staff (if required), agree valuations with HM Revenue & Customs (where that service is available), assist you with any HM Revenue & Customs notification requirements and, in future, assist you with events such as the exercise of the share options;
  • advising employers or employees on the taxation of termination payments, including the impact of post-employment notice pay rules and advising on any ways to improve the tax efficient of a settlement; and,
  • advising employers or employees on employment status issues such as the 2021 revision to the off-payroll working rules (IR35). Negotiating and drafting contracts to incorporate appropriate provisions.

Contact Matt Spencer to find out more.

 

Personal Tax

We can advise on various areas of personal taxation for you, your family and your business. We can also liaise directly with your existing financial advisors, such as accountants, bankers and trustees, or work with our network of accountancy, financial and cross-border advisors to offer you a comprehensive service and save you having to communicate with parties separately.

In particular, we can help with reviewing your tax status on moving to the UK, including advice on the UK statutory residence test which determines when you become UK tax resident and the application of split year treatment. This also extends to your domicile and deemed domicile status which will determine your liability to Inheritance Tax (IHT). It may also include the analysis of the relevance of double tax treaties to your personal situation.

Once living in the UK, we can assist with planning for living in the UK in a tax efficient fashion, including:

  • advice on how to hold worldwide assets, whether personal, business or philanthropic in nature; 
  • in light of your arrival in the UK, the arising and remittance bases of taxation and how to structure your personal tax affairs in a tax efficient fashion; and,
  • the funding of your living costs in the UK and structuring your UK and non UK bank accounts.

Contact Laura Harper to find out more.

 

Tax, Trusts & Succession

Our team is made up of numerous STEP qualified lawyers who have vast experience in the creation and administration of trusts. We have experience in the formation of private trust companies, charitable trusts, and foundations, and are well versed in the relevant associated tax requirements.

We are also often called upon to advise on the interpretation of trusts and their associated tax issues and we act on behalf of settlors, trustees and beneficiaries both in the UK and offshore. We also provide family governance advice in relation to matters including family offices, family run companies and partnerships and family investment companies. We match our keen academic knowledge of trust law with experience in finding practical solutions against a complicated conceptual background.

As disclosure of the use of trusts becomes increasingly common globally, we can assist in relation to the requirements of your trust reporting including registering on the Trust Registration Service and your filing requirements.

In addition, if you have assets in multiple jurisdictions and complex business structures, high value real estate or other assets, we can give appropriate advice or liaise with other professional advisers when required to do so. We understand the need to dovetail UK succession planning with laws in other countries, with shareholder or partnership agreements where there are business or farming assets, and give expert advice on tax implications and structuring your Will tax-efficiently.

Succession planning is one of the aspects of our job that we are asked about most frequently as clients look to provide for the future generations of their family or to provide for the causes they have supported. We act for numerous families looking to pass on wealth generated in the most tax efficient manner and our advice ranges from the use of inheritance tax exemptions to the establishment of trusts of family investment companies.

Increasingly, we also assist clients with tax investigations and voluntary disclosures relating to domicile and the use of the remittance basis of taxation. Our team are experienced in disclosure exercises with HMRC and have conducted several negotiations with them on these issues.

Contact Laura Harper to find out more.

 

Tax investigations

Our team of expert tax lawyers has a proven track record of successfully defending both individuals and companies in civil and criminal HMRC investigations in the UK and overseas.

We can support those who find themselves in HMRC’s sights for a serious tax matter in a variety of ways:

  • We advise on how to respond to HMRC enquiries and assist with information disclosure.
  • We work closely with other specialist professionals (for example, tax accountants, forensic accountants and tax counsel), in order to persuade HMRC to resolve potential tax disputes in clients’ best interests, be that through tax tribunals, civil proceedings and/or a negotiated settlement (Under Code of Practice 8 or 9). 
  • We can provide rapid and immediate assistance in “crisis situations” - for example, following arrest(s) or dawn raid(s). We can also attend the police station and advise on the scope and legality of search warrants if required.
  • We provide specialist advice in the event a tax investigation is linked to related money laundering proceedings.
  • Should matters take the route of a criminal prosecution, we will ensure the strongest possible defence is advanced at court.
  • We also advise on the corporate offence of failure to prevent the facilitation of tax evasion (Criminal Finances Act 2017).
  • We provide specialist advice on the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

Contact Louise Hodges or David Sleight to find out more.

 

Share Schemes

We advise on the creation, variation and exercise of a range of share schemes, including assisting you to choose the most appropriate incentive structure to motivate and reward your staff. Our services include:

  • creating EMI share option schemes. These are routinely the most popular choice of incentive, usually enjoying a negative overall tax rate (with employees paying 10% tax while employers enjoy a 19% tax deduction). EMI options can be highly flexible, making it easy to tie employee rewards to company growth (incentivising employees to build the business). We provide a full service and can work with you to create a scheme, agree a valuation with HMRC (useful to lock in tax advantages) and we can guide you through the notification process with HMRC. When it comes time to exercise the options, we can help with that too. We regularly see very substantial multiples of the scheme cost saved in tax;
  • creating unapproved share options. Often these are used where an EMI option isn’t possible (for example, your company might be too large to use an EMI scheme, or the individual might not be an employee or director of the business). They are similar to EMI schemes, but the tax the individual eventually pays is higher. Often a company might have an EMI and unapproved scheme running in conjunction (with very similar conditions in the two);
  • issuing shares to staff, so that they benefit from growth and possibly dividends. These enjoy a lower overall employee tax rate compared to unapproved share options or cash bonuses, but can involve an upfront tax charge (on issue of the shares) and can be harder to unwind should an employee leave. “Growth shares” are an alternative to issuing regular shares, with a greater implementation cost weighed against the removal of a day one tax charge;
  • in some cases (usually where EMI is not available) creating Company Share Option Plans (CSOPs), Save as You Earn (SAYE) schemes, or Share Incentive Plans (SIPs) might be considered. Very generally, the set up cost is higher compared to EMI, the schemes more restrictive and the tax advantages lesser;
  • we can help create Long Term Incentive Plans, these do not necessarily enjoy tax advantages but can be very flexible;
  • we can help with 'phantom' share schemes. These are essentially cash bonuses where the bonus is determined by share values. In certain circumstances (for example, where no shares can be issued to staff) these can be useful to incentivise staff; and,
  • finally, while not a share scheme, sometimes a cash bonus scheme might be the most appropriate reward. These don’t enjoy tax advantages, but are incredibly flexible and generally well understood by staff.

Contact James Fulforth to find out more. 

 

Immigration and associated tax implications

If you are planning a move to the UK, our expert team of immigration lawyers are able to provide you with a joined-up service to assist your journey here and help you overcome the complex rules governing the taxation of non-UK domiciled individuals. This may involve:

  • identifying the best visa options for you and your family;
  • renting or buying a property;
  • pre-immigration tax advice and estate planning;
  • establishing a business here;
  • and, ensuring that your international assets are protected, which may include prenuptial and postnuptial agreements.

We also have a large team advising on all aspects of immigration law that affect UK companies. This includes obtaining sponsor licences, investment and advice on the application process.

We work closely with other UK and internationally based professional advisors to international families, high net worth individuals, professionals, entrepreneurs, investors and their families, providing you with a full service and meeting your needs during your journey to and whilst living in the UK.

Contact Nick Rollason or Katie Newbury to find out more.

 

Real Estate Tax

We advise on all aspects of real estate tax, whether you are a landlord, tenant, developer, purchaser, seller, promoter, high net worth individual or otherwise engaged in real estate matters. Our expertise include:

  • SDLT - including assisting with the structuring of your transaction to ensure optimal SDLT efficiency. There are a large number of reliefs and efficient structures (multiple dwellings relief, overlap relief, sale and leaseback relief, Prudential planning etc.) which can reduce an SDLT bill if the transaction is correctly organised;
  • VAT - including any need for an 'option to tax', advice on compulsory VAT standard rating of transactions, negotiating VAT provisions in contracts, considering disapplication provisions (such as developer finance / use by charities etc), advising on VAT recoverability, advising on issues around joint owners / partnerships etc;
  • Capital Allowances - together with the negotiation and drafting of contractual provisions on sale (such as a s198 election) or lease (such as a s183 election). Advising on the assumption of allowances on purchase from a non-claimant such as a developer etc. Advice can be given on the various capital allowances pools, first year allowances and super deductions;
  • Construction industry Scheme - (which can require up to 30% consideration to be withheld from contracts which include an element of construction work) together with advice on 'gross payment status' and other aspects to the law;
  • HNWIs - advising high net worth individuals on acquisition structures (such as whether to purchase individually or through a company, or whether to purchase a property holding company as opposed to the underlying property), advising on considerations around SDLT, VAT, CGT, ATED, IHT, corporation tax etc;
  • Developers / Landowners - Advising developers (or landowners) on tax structuring or the consequences of their existing structures, including corporate or partnership / JV structures and the use of LLPs etc;
  • Landlords and Tenants - Advising landlords and tenants on their leases and possible tax risks / efficiencies; and,
  • Public Sector - Advising public sector clients as well as private clients, together with tax rules specific to certain public bodies (NHS COS rules for VAT recovery, the local authority “5% test” under s33 etc).

Contact Matt Spencer to find out more.

 

As with any complex legal matter, adopting a strategic approach and seeking specialist advice as soon as possible is key. Doing so will allow the greatest possibility of securing a favourable outcome.

Further information and contacting the team

If you have a tax issue that you would like to discuss, or you would like to find out more about the tax law services we provide, please contact our specialist tax law team.

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