How long have you been a tax adviser Doug?
I have been working in tax for over 30 years.

Doug Sinclair

How did you come to specialise in tax investigations and tax disclosures?
I started my career in tax on 13 July 1987 at my local tax office in Bromley as a filing clerk. Coincidentally a few years later another member of the Tax Advice Network, Bill Stevenson became the District Inspector. I ended my career with HMRC in February 2001 to join the profession and since then have acted for clients who are either under investigation or who wish to make a disclosure.

What are the most common mistakes you see made by non-specialists in your area of tax?
The most common misunderstandings that I see relate to providing every document that HMRC has requested. Whilst this may be correct, when I ask a non-specialist why they provided a particular document, they often say because HMRC asked for it. HMRC will often use the premise “if you don’t ask, you don’t get.” Another issue I see is where non-specialists do not understand the concept of deliberate behaviour and the non-tax issues which are associated with it.
What are the most valuable issues on which you have given advice?
Category of behaviour – there are so many issues it can affect from time limits, penalties and non-tax issues (naming & shaming, monitoring of tax returns etc.).
What differences might you expect to see in the coming year that could impact those issues?
I suspect HMRC will continue to assert deliberate behaviour on a range of matters, as the Treasury will need to collect vast sums of monies.
What has been your worst experience with HMRC?
I couldn’t possibly comment……. but speed of response to certain disclosures has been an issue.
What has been the most rewarding thing you have done from a tax perspective?
The field of investigations and disclosures often result in a very close bond between advisor and client and it is pleasing to assist in saving a business from being wound up or saving a family relationship from dealing with the delicate financial issues which have arisen.
What is your top tax tip for general practitioners?
Don’t jump in to a client problem without sitting back and reflecting. If it’s outside your comfort zone, don’t be afraid to ask someone who has expertise in the subject – the client will thank you in the long run.
If you hadn’t gone into tax what would you like to be doing now?
When I was younger I played rugby for Anglo Scots U21’s and wished I had gone into a sports professional role, possibly a coach.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time – away from the world of tax?
Relaxing over good food and fine wine, which is now enjoyed at home.