Top Recommended Tax & Trust Lawyers
‘An absolute star,’ one peer says of James Quarmby, Spear’s Tax & Trust Lawyer of the Year in 2016. That’s no exaggeration, particularly when you consider Quarmby’s Today bout with John Humphrys, in which he impressively defended David Cameron’s tax affairs following the Panama Papers leaks. When Spear’s caught up with him, Quarmby was similarly adamant:
‘I don’t think tax avoidance is a dirty word if it’s done responsibly and not abusively,’ he says.
Although Quarmby is clear that tax avoidance should not be encouraged, the government’s illiberal measures to ‘demonise’ lawful planning should not be allowed, he adds. One example in a ‘long line of harsh measures’, he says, is the government’s General Anti-Abuse Rule (GAAR).
GAAR could result in a 60 per cent penalty for ‘negligence’ over arrangements that in the recent past would have been completely legitimate. ‘Effectively they’re using GAAR to rewrite the law retrospectively,’ he says. ‘Part of me says if you want to stop people from doing tax avoidance, get your legislation in order – don’t just have this nuclear weapon you can wheel out when everything else fails.’
Another worry for Quarmby is the Failure to Prevent (FTP) legislation. ‘They are going to criminalise people for failing to prevent other people committing tax evasion,’ he says, likening this to ‘criminalising people who have accidents or just forget things’.