George Rowell

Call 2004

"Always ten steps ahead."

The Legal 500 2020
Photo of George Rowell


George has specialised in tax disputes throughout his time as a barrister. He ‘cut his teeth’ in-house with HM Customs & Excise and HM Revenue & Customs before moving to successful independent practice. Historically the majority of his tax instructions came from HMRC, but in recent years he has built a strong following amongst private-sector solicitors, accountants and tax advisors. Most of his tax work is now on behalf of private clients, trustees and small-to-medium-sized businesses.

George’s main areas of tax expertise are:

  • Capital gains tax
  • Employment-related taxes and employee benefit trusts;
  • Inheritance tax
  • Value added tax
  • Penalties
  • Tax avoidance schemes and APNs
  • Judicial review claims against HMRC
  • Tax-related professional negligence

George can provide advice and support at all stages of a tax dispute, from advising on merits and drafting persuasive letters to HMRC during an enquiry, to bringing and pursuing a tribunal appeal if necessary. He offers a ‘one-stop-shop’ service for solicitors, accountants and tax advisors who do not specialise in tax litigation. This provides a cost-effective solution where challenging HMRC might otherwise be prohibitively expensive.

George has been recommended as a Leading Junior in Chambers & Partners and Legal 500. Chambers & Partners says “George is very knowledgeable and experienced. He advises in a thorough yet practical fashion, giving advice on the best way forward in cases” and “His first written advice was very comprehensive and was used through the whole case.”. Legal 500 has said he is “Always ten steps ahead.” (see Recommendations for details).

George is the joint author of Tax Penalties: A Practitioner’s Guide (Sweet & Maxwell, 2017, 781pp). He is also a contributing editor of Simon’s Taxes (LexisNexis), jointly responsible for rewriting the 70,000-word Penalties Division.

Tax Cases

  • CGT: appeal concerning incorporation relief and £280,000 penalty.
  • CGT: advising owner of £3.5m property on principal private residence relief.
  • Employee benefit trusts: advising PLC on dispute over tax relating to £2.7m offshore fund.
  • Employee benefit trusts: advising administrator on tax assessments of £3.8m
  • IHT: dispute over agricultural occupation and other issues relating to APR.
  • IHT: dispute over ‘character appropriate’ test and other issues relating to APR.
  • IHT: dispute over business valuation for BPR purposes.
  • PAYE: appeal against £250,000 assessment imposed on director of insolvent company.
  • Tax avoidance: advising on tax and NIC assessments resulting from failed film partnership scheme.
  • VAT: dispute over entitlement to deduct input tax, leading to two-week trial.
  • VAT: civil fraud case with £3.4m at stake, leading to five-week trial (with leader).
  • VAT: dispute over entitlement to deduct input tax of £7.6m (with leader).
  • VAT: appeal and judicial review challenging £1.4m output tax assessments raised against 200-member taxi drivers’ association.