Tax law has never been a more contentious or high-profile issue, both for individuals and businesses, as governments around the world seek to raise tax revenues without alienating specific groups.
The result is greater complexity in tax rules and their application, especially in the UK where the government has introduced a number of anti-avoidance measures and a general anti-abuse rule. At the same time, there has been a significant shift in the tone of public opinion about tax planning, driven by widespread media coverage, which has led to companies and individuals suffering adverse publicity and serious commercial consequences.
This hardening of attitudes towards tax law and tax planning is also reflected in the approach taken by HMRC and the courts. Tax law is applied more strictly and what was formerly seen as acceptable tax planning is now regarded as tax avoidance.
Detailed and changing rules, closer scrutiny and higher penalties – both in terms of fines and reputational and commercial impact – all mean that sound, up-to-date and commercially driven tax advice is now more important than ever.
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