"What do tax lawyers do?"

Key Facts

Tax law is the area of law governing the payment and planning of tax for both private individuals and corporations

Tax is generally an advisory practice area but there are occasions where a matter can become subject to litigation so it is both a contentious and non-contentious area of law

Due to the nature of tax being a part of everything, tax lawyers tend to get involved in a variety of transactions and work with other legal teams. 

Tax lawyers can work in both the public and private sectors

In summary - a tax lawyer will spend a lot of their time advising clients on how they can pay as little tax as possible without breaking the law!

What does a tax lawyer do in the private sector?

Clients in the private sector can be:

- CORPORATE (i.e. companies / businesses) 

- PRIVATE CLIENTS (i.e. high net worth individuals) 

In the private sector, a tax lawyer will: 

  • advise clients on how best to structure assets or a company to make a transaction more tax efficient 

  • handle tax planning for clients so they understand the financial ramifications of purchases and disposals of assets 

  • assist / advise on corporate deals re tax elements such as M&A and advise on the implications of tax during such transactions 

  • work alongside private client lawyers on matters of private wealth 

  • assist and draft legal documentation, negotiate transactions and complete deals 

What does a tax lawyer do in the public sector?

In the public sector, a tax lawyer will:

  • work for government tax and revenue departments, tax statutory bodies and panels 

  • investigate tax evasions

  • audit the tax accounts of companies

  • prosecute tax offenders

  • assist with the interpretation of tax rules and regulations 

  • defend public authorities against private sector claims


A tax litigator will deal with investigations or litigation resulting from prosecution by HMRC - such litigation is always conducted against or brought by the government!

What makes a good tax lawyer?

Tax lawyers need to be able to translate complex tax legislation and advise clients on how they can structure a deal in a legal and tax efficient way (thereby avoiding any HMRC penalty) so... to be a good tax lawyer you should:

  • Have a strong academic background and interest in tax law - tax law is a very complex area so an interest and skill for academics is a massive bonus!

  • Strong analytical, communication and negotiation skills - you'll be spending lots of your time analysing the finances of companies and individuals and then communicating proposed tax structures to clients. 

  • Good legal researcher - tax law changes often!

  • Interest in corporate / company law too as you'll be reviewing business structures to provide tax advice.