Don’t let the sharks catch you! by Brian Jukes, Tax Partner

Just as in every walk of life, there are sharks who purport to be trustworthy professionals who will look after your interests from an accountancy, tax or legal perspective.

The successes of HMRC in attacking artificial tax avoidance schemes in recent years has led to many claims of mis-selling, which has in turn created an industry in itself.  However, the leading name in this type of litigation, Rebus, has just entered into administration, with clients now being left high and dry.

Rebus was not regulated by either an accountancy body or the Law Society, so its clients have no institute to fall back on.  Hence, to add insult to injury, not only have they been sold a product that probably does not work, but they have subsequently been promised a route out at a cost which they are also going to lose and now they are left unrepresented because they do not have the backing of a regulated authority.

Some might say ‘tough luck – they shouldn’t have been greedy in the first place’.  However, this only tells part of the story.  Human nature is to do whatever we can to secure our futures and those of our children, which means that we try to maximise our returns and minimise our expenses, tax being one of them.  Hence, if an apparent professional tells you that a product will achieve this, then it may be very tempting to pursue such an option.

Dafferns have always steered our clients away from such artificial arrangements because we anticipated the eventual backlash and didn’t want our clients to suffer the wrath of HMRC.

The moral of this story is to check out the credentials of the so-called professional before engaging them.  Unregulated firms, whilst perhaps cheaper, cannot give you the peace of mind that what they are telling you is correct and, more importantly, if poor advice ever brought you under HMRC’s spotlight, there is the protection of a professional body in the background.

Dafferns’ tax team would be happy to advise you on a range of tailored, non-provocative tax planning strategies. We are also available to give you a second opinion about any tax planning tools that you are currently using. Please contact either: [email protected] or, [email protected].