Chambers takes on IR in bid to win tax breaks

A CHAMBERS which has set up its own limited company to run its administration is attempting to convince the Inland Revenue that it is entitled to significant tax breaks.

According to 10-11 Gray's Inn Square, if the chambers wins its argument with tax officials it will reap huge tax rewards as well as serving as a model for a new type of chambers.

The Revenue is currently considering the tax status of the chambers, which set itself up as a limited company run by a board of directors several years ago.

The board, chaired by head of chambers Alan Masters, runs a service company which effectively runs the set.

Barristers at the civil, criminal and family chambers pay the company a percentage of their earnings.

Masters said the chambers was arguing that as the service company was run on a mutual basis it was entitled to tax breaks, which were at the Revenue's discretion.

However, one sticking point is whether it can be argued that the company makes a notional profit because it buys in capital assets such as law books.

Masters said the chambers had been in talks with the Revenue over its tax status for the past 18 months.

He said that if the chambers was successful it, and the handful of other sets which have followed its lead, would "be the model for the Bar for the future".

Masters added that the structure adopted by the chambers had its own intrinsic advantages because it put the running of chambers on a more efficient and rational footing.

"The only drawback to a company structure that we have come across is that we have to be very careful not to make a profit," he said.

However, barrister Conrad McDonnell, from leading tax set Gray's Inn Chambers, was sceptical about the chambers' prospects of winning tax concessions. "I can't see that there are any particular tax advantages," he commented.