By Gene Goodsell | Nexus Law Group Consulting Principal, Tax Lawyer
Accountants usually retain the services of tax lawyers when legal issues are jeopardising their client’s financial integrity.
Accountants should retain the services of a tax lawyer whenever a complicated structure is being contemplated. The later a tax lawyer sees this the less flexibility and creativity they have. Due to their legal training and experience, tax lawyers have an edge when there are multiple complex structures involved featuring trusts, partnerships, companies, or several different entities working in tandem. This is because these are legal structures driven by legal principles. A tax lawyer should also review and draft tax clauses in legal documents. Accountants should also turn to a tax lawyer to provide legal tax opinions.
Tax law does not operate in a vacuum. It interacts with other different areas of law, such as corporate and commercial law.
The Australian Income Tax Acts are thousands of pages long and very complicated. These Acts are also constantly amended. The Courts also issue case law on a regular basis which interprets the provisions of the Tax Acts. Accountants can turn to a tax lawyer who is required to keep abreast of the latest legislative and judicial developments. Tax lawyers can also provide guidance as to the meaning of ambiguous provisions.
Legal Professional Privilege
Communications between client and lawyer are privileged. A tax lawyer does not need to show the ATO or produce the relevant tax law documents in court. Accountants may also be able to be brought under this privileged umbrella by engaging the services of a tax lawyer.
It is a good idea to involve a tax lawyer as soon as one of your clients is in trouble with the ATO. An early consultation may save your client a lot of grief and keep them out of court. Tax lawyers can prepare submissions to the tax office including: objections, private ruling applications, responses to positions papers, and voluntary disclosure letters. They can also negotiate and act for an accountant’s client where there is an audit, review or investigation. A tax lawyer can also appear before the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, Federal Court and High Court.
Our law firm always refers accounting related work to professional accountants. Please contact us if you think we may be able to assist your client with the legal aspects of tax.
For further information, please contact Gene Goodsell, Consulting Principal at Nexus Law Group: [email protected] or at (02) 9016 0141
This article first appeared here.
This publication is © Nexus Law Group and is for general guidance only. Legal advice should be sought before taking action in relation to any specific issues.