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06 October 2004
Issue: 3978 / Categories:

Disclosure and lawyers

Disclosure and lawyers

The Law Society has told solicitors that if they give advice on tax measures, it is protected by privilege and does not have to be revealed to the Inland Revenue. Legal opinion was sought from a top lawyer following changes announced in this year's Budget and, as a result, guidance has been issued to the solicitors' profession on the practical implications of the new régime. It says that in many cases, information that solicitors would be required to disclose under the tax avoidance regulations would be subject to legal professional privilege. Such information would not have to be disclosed to the Revenue.

The Law Society had been in discussion with the Inland Revenue on the extent of solicitors' disclosure obligations but was unable to reach agreement. Instead the Society published its own guidance on 20 September 2004.

Not unnaturally perturbed at this stance, the presidents of the six United Kingdom accountancy bodies have written to the Chancellor expressing their concern at the Law Society's guidance to solicitors. They had previously received assurance from Dawn Primarolo, the Paymaster General, that the Government believed that legal professional privilege would not prevent solicitors from disclosing details of tax avoidance schemes to the Revenue (see ICAEW TaxRep 40/04,

(Law Society news release dated 21 September 2004.)

Improve tax credits!

A wishlist of changes and improvements to the tax credits system has been presented to the Inland Revenue by a group of various bodies, including the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group, the CIOT, and the ICAEW.

In particular the group calls for:

* a system whereby the Revenue will deal with authorised advisers, copying them in with relevant correspondence;

* tax credit and self assessment enquiries (if they co-exist) to be worked together, so that the taxpayer has finality;

* award notices being made more clear so that claimants can understand how their credit awards are made up;

* better training for contact centre employees;

* more willingness from the Revenue to remit overpayments which arise through Revenue error;

* better practical guidance for claimants, and a more easily navigable website.

(CIOT press release dated 29 September 2004.)


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Issue: 3978 / Categories:
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