Taxation is an integral component of law and economy, yet its complexity necessitates professional guidance for optimal outcomes.

HMRC publishes internal guidance on various issues, and solicitors should always refer to this when providing advice to clients. However, such advice should not have legal force.


This free charity provides help for people on low incomes in understanding their rights and responsibilities with HMRC through phone, email, and face-to-face appointments. They can assist with issues with tax returns and allowances; help challenge penalties that often run into thousands of pounds; and accept donations and grants as funding sources.

The Edinburgh Tax Clinic is a partnership between the Law School at the University of Edinburgh and TaxAid UK, running every year with 14 students working under supervision by tutors and supervisors to resolve over 100 people’s cases, saving them over £24,200 in penalties and refunds while demystifying the UK’s complex tax system and clarifying entitlements in simple language, helping through difficult times in their lives.

Notify HMRC as soon as possible if you are unable to pay what is owed. By notifying them immediately, they may be more flexible with regards to repayment plans, offering payment in instalments tailored specifically to your budget or even offering to secure the debt against your home as collateral.

However, it is essential to keep in mind that if you do not agree on an arrangement with HMRC in regards to paying what you owe, they could take legal action against you, including seizing property, wages, or any other assets they possess.

Depending on the nature and amount of the debt owed, HMRC can take various actions to collect what they owe you. If it involves income tax debt, they will issue you an income tax demand as a legal notice detailing how much HMRC believes you owe in taxes from that year, plus interest and penalty fees.

Those experiencing difficulty paying their taxes should contact HMRC immediately for advice. They will want to know where all your money is coming in and going out so they can create an affordable payment plan with you, or they may accept one-off lump-sum instalments if possible.

Tax Help

For people who cannot afford professional tax advisers in Glasgow, help is available from charities and other organisations. TaxAid provides free, confidential advice about taxes for low-income earners via their national helpline and face-to-face services in London, Manchester, Birmingham, and Newcastle upon Tyne. They normally expect that you have attempted to resolve your issue directly with HMRC before seeking assistance; however, they do not assist with corporation tax/VAT issues, tax planning/credit issues, DHP benefits, council tax, or non-UK issues.

If a friend or family member is willing to assist with your taxes, HMRC allows them the power to act on your behalf by registering them as a ‘trusted helper.’ However, they won’t have access to your online tax account and are only authorised for limited tasks such as checking that the right amount of tax is paid, updating personal allowances, or helping with form filling.

Johnston Smillie offers online tax service providers that can reduce your tax liabilities efficiently and in an approachable manner. When selecting one, make sure they belong to a professional body such as the Chartered Institute of Taxation or the Association of Taxation Technicians; this ensures they adhere to high standards and provide excellent service. To locate a professional adviser quickly and easily, use the Find a Tax Adviser tool available on the CIOT website. Simply enter your location, rough area, and type of help needed, and they’ll help!


HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, or HMRC for short) is the government department responsible for collecting taxes in the United Kingdom, administering certain benefits and tax credit payments to citizens of that nation and reporting directly to Parliament via Treasury via non-ministerial officials. HMRC serves as the British equivalent of the Internal Revenue Service in America.

HMRC provides free and confidential advice to low-income people through their national helpline, face-to-face services in London, Manchester, Birmingham, and Newcastle upon Tyne, as well as through correspondence. However, this advice cannot cover issues like Corporation Tax/VAT, Tax Planning, Tax Credits, DWP Benefits Council Tax issues outside the UK or any non-UK issues.

HMRC allows taxpaying individuals to reclaim overpayments of tax by following specific procedures. Depending on the type of tax you paid and any mistakes with tax codes received or rebates you owe, each case can differ in how to proceed with reclaiming an overpayment of tax. For more information, visit HMRC’s website (external link).

If you find that managing your affairs becomes impossible in the future, a Lasting Power of Attorney for property and financial matters can help ensure someone takes over this aspect of your affairs in your absence—without accessing your online account with HMRC.

If your condition prevents you from communicating directly with HMRC, if needed, you can appoint a trusted helper (external link) who is authorised to view and discuss your tax affairs with them on your behalf. This could include friends, family, or advisors.

In the past, HMRC faced criticism for a data breach that affected 25 million families. Discs containing their personal details went missing and were later found dumped into outdoor waste bins. Furthermore, in August 2010, seven staff members were dismissed due to allegations of discrimination against ethnic minority claimants.

Accountants and tax advisers

Personal tax matters require expert advice. From filing self-assessments, paying capital gains tax or inheritance tax, and responding to HMRC inquiries to dealing with inquiries from HMRC themselves, having access to expert guidance can help minimise liabilities, maximise reliefs available, and avoid potential tax pitfalls. With UK regulations constantly shifting and creating opportunities and risks that necessitate specialist knowledge, an accountant with this kind of experience can help harness these opportunities for compliance while optimising your position.

TaxAid or Tax Help for Older People, offers free advice about taxes if you have low incomes, while accountants who specialise in your particular area of law could also be helpful. Just make sure that any adviser chosen belongs to an established professional body so they have all the experience and expertise to provide top-tier service.

The standards set out by both the Solicitors Regulation Authority and its independent Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal reflect the implicit duty of integrity that solicitors have when providing taxation advice. Solicitors should only advise on matters within their expertise and should always carefully consider their repercussions before giving advice.

Furthermore, they should avoid making statements that might mislead or cause unnecessary anxiety or distress, including inaccurate or misleading legal claims. Furthermore, they must not conceal relevant facts and must inform their client about any possible conflicts of interest.

Solicitors should generally avoid providing clients with complex tax advice that exceeds their areas of competence; however, they should be willing to refer clients to specialists if necessary, as long as informed consent has been obtained beforehand. Solicitors should include this information in client care letters and store them for future reference. Solicitors should exercise caution when using HMRC guidelines when providing advice to their clients. Although these statements do not bind HMRC, they will likely find it hard to rely on such statements in court (as per Jackson LJ in Wingate v. The Solicitors Regulation Authority [2019] EWCA Civ 1643). Furthermore, HMRC’s published guidance simply gives its interpretation of legislation without binding authority or responsibility.