Firms and freelance solicitors have until Sunday 10 January to check whether any of their tax advice work falls within the new definition for money-laundering purposes.

If it does, the firm should make an application to the regulator or other anti-money laundering supervisor, before then, to be supervised for money laundering – or stop undertaking such work.

The definition of ‘tax adviser’ for the purposes of money laundering was widened in scope under the EU’s fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive (AMLD5) (now transposed into UK law).

A tax adviser is now “a firm or sole practitioner who by way of business provides material aid, or assistance or advice, in connection with the tax affairs of other persons, whether provided directly or through a third party, when providing such services”.

It includes freelance solicitors; and activities known informally by terms such as ‘estate planning’, ‘tax planning’ and ‘tax mitigation’ are also likely to be within scope.

SRA chief executive Paul Philip said: “Tackling money laundering is a priority for all of us and we know the vast majority of firms are committed to keeping the proceeds of crime out of the profession. Importantly, the amended regulations widen the definition of tax adviser, which means firms not currently engaged by the anti-money laundering regulations will shortly be included.”

“Any firm providing tax advisor services must check the position and, if necessary, apply to us or another AML supervisor. Alternatively, you might choose to drop the activities that bring you into scope.”

Firms within scope who apply to the SRA are required to submit a completed FA10 form, along with suitable disclosure and barring service (DBS) checks for their beneficial owners, officers and managers.

The SRA has published guidance setting out firms’ responsibilities in full.

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