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.
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 of 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 manner 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.
The following student guides have useful information working in law: