Tax lawyers are involved in advising their clients (such as private individuals, companies, or the government) on the best way to mitigate their tax liability.
Most tax work is non-contentious, but tax lawyers working for HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) are engaged in investigating potential breaches of the law, and either prosecuting individuals or companies; or defending cases on behalf of the government.
Types of tax laws
- Income tax
- Property tax
- Capital gains
- UK inheritance
- Value Added Tax (VAT)
- Non-profit tax
What does a tax lawyer do?
Tax lawyers who act for private clients will be engaged in client meetings, advising on potential tax liability (for example, in the buying or selling of assets) and the best way to mitigate that liability.
Tax lawyers who act for companies often work with other teams of lawyers as one aspect of a larger deal, as virtually all commercial transactions will include tax ramifications. Typical deals might include advising on the tax implications of a mergers and acquisitions, property deals, restructurings and all manners of finance such as funds, equity and debt.
HMRC is the government body with the remit to bring proceedings against a company or individuals. They may also be involved in defending cases brought against the government. HMRC lawyers are involved in advising on the application of the new laws on taxation, which are frequent.
What skills are required?
Tax legislation is a huge and complex area of law, which changes every year. You will need to be academically able in order to understand complicated, lengthy and detailed legislation and have a genuine interest in the subject in order to keep up. Additional qualifications (for example, Chartered Tax Adviser status) may be required.
You will need to translate tax legislation into practical courses of action, as well as be able to communicate your advice clearly to your client, so commercial awareness and communication skills are a must.
An awareness of the wider deals in which you will be engaged (for example, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures and private finance initiatives) is also requisite.
How to become a tax lawyer?
To work as a solicitor, you can either take the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE), or if you are eligible, you can study the Legal Practice Course (LPC).
If you qualify through the SQE, you will also need to complete two years of Qualifying Work Experience (QWE). To prepare for the SQE, we recommend studying one of our SQE courses, which have been designed to give you the knowledge and skills for a successful career as a solicitor.
If you’re eligible to study the LPC, you will need to get a two-year training contract with a law firm. To find out what route is right for you, see our Becoming a Solicitor page.
Once you complete your two-year training contract or QWE, you can apply to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) to be admitted as a solicitor.
To become a barrister, you will need to have completed an undergraduate law degree, or if you are a non-law graduate, a conversion course, before completing the Bar Practice Course (BPC). You will then need to secure pupillage.
You can also study a Master of Law (LLM) in Banking and Debt Finance, or an LLM in International Finance Law to give you the knowledge and skills to move into this sector.
What is the salary of a tax lawyer?
A newly qualified tax solicitor in a firm in London starts at £57,000. An average tax solicitor salary in London is an average £75,000 based on five years’ experience, according to Reed.co.uk. For those with over ten year of experience, a tax lawyer salary can range from £65,000 to £97,500. Those based in London and bigger cities will often earn more. These estimations are ever-changing with the landscape of the job market. Be sure to check average salaries when applying for roles regularly.
The following student guides have useful information working in law:
Chambers and Partners Student guide
Read the latest tax law headlines and features via Newsnow.co.uk, Tax Journal and Global Tax News.