Christmas has come early for dodgy lawyers

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Christmas has come early for tax dodging lawyers as HMRC has announced a new tax amnesty for solicitors this morning, saying:

The Solicitors’ Tax Campaign voluntary disclosure opportunity runs from 8 December 2014 to 9 June 2015. It will be of interest to you if you work within the legal profession as a solicitor and you want to bring your tax affairs up to date. For example if you haven’t told HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) about all your past income, gains and undisclosed liabilities.

You may be a solicitor working:

  • for yourself in your own business
  • within a partnership or limited liability partnership
  • within or as a company

This list is not exhaustive.

HMRC believes that its customers want to pay the right amount of tax and wants to help those not paying the correct amount of tax to put that right. This guidance describes what to do if you need to put things right.

Three thoughts. First, if there was one profession where we should expect people to get things right then it is lawyers.

Second, if there was one profession where we should expect no clemency for carelessness or dishonesty then it's lawyers, but penalty rates or as low as 10% are being offered.

Third, if there's one profession where quiet deals to settle past misdemeanours should not be tolerated because publicity about crooked participants is required it is the legal profession, but HMRC put in all their usual caveats on doing so.

I have some sympathy with the campaigns HMRC undertakes to find evaded tax but I doubt I will be alone in having some difficulty with such an arrangement for lawyers.