Barrister Tax: Early Years of Practice

Businessperson Using a Calculator
Barrister Accounts: Early Years Guide

Introduction: Stepping into the Bar

As you make your transition from pupillage to junior barrister, understanding the tax implications of your early years of practice is crucial. The Bar Standards Board (BSB) and the Bar Council provide comprehensive guidance, but the information can be complex. This article provides a simplified view of tax matters relevant to junior barristers in England and Wales.

If you are a barrister in need of professional advice concerning your accounts, Jack Ross Chartered Accountants can help. Use the contact form on the right and one of our barrister tax experts will be in touch. 

Why Focus on the Early Years of Practice?

Tax considerations in your early years of practice can significantly influence your financial planning. The rules around tax assessment for barristers are particular and can differ from other self-employed or employed individuals. Understanding these rules aids better financial management and compliance with HMRC regulations. 

The Basics: Understanding Pupillage and Practising Periods

What is Pupillage?

Pupillage is the initial period where you train under the supervision of a senior barrister. This phase is critical as it prepares you for your years of practice at the Bar.

From Pupil to Junior Barrister

After completing your pupillage, you typically become a tenant in a chamber and begin your practice as a junior barrister. This transition is where specific tax rules begin to apply.

Tax Considerations in Early Years: ITTOIA and Basis Periods

The law around tax for barristers is defined in the Income Tax (Trading and Other Income) Act 2005 (ITTOIA). The act sets the “basis period” for tax assessment:

  1. First Year: The basis period starts from the date you begin to practise and ends on the following 5 April.

  2. Second Year: The basis period for the second tax year depends on your accounts. If you have a twelve-month period of account ending in that tax year, that becomes the basis period. Otherwise, more complicated rules apply.

Example Scenarios

To make this easier to understand, consider the following example:

  • Elizabeth, a junior barrister, started her practice on 20 April 2020 and prepared her first set of accounts up to 30 April 2021. Her assessable profits would be calculated based on specific proportions of the days within the tax years concerned.

The rules aim to assess the profits of a practice only once during its lifetime. However, the same profits might form the basis for more than one tax year, creating “overlap profits.” These can be set off during a change in accounting date or at the cessation of practice.

Sofia Carlini

The Jack Ross Team has been an absolute delight. Professional, nice and fast during the Audit procedure. Thank you Jack Ross Team.

Katrien Vanassche

Very good service from the Jack Ross Team. They gave us good advice and completed a very efficient audit. They have a friendly and competent team. I would surely recommend them.

Dan Gazzard

Brilliant service from the Jack Ross team in setting up several companies in very quick time, along with providing associated accountancy advice. Can recommend wholeheartedly as a leading accountancy practice with a can-do attitude.

Daniel Connolly

First class service for many years from a first class team. Highly recommended. Prompt, commercially aware, personable.

Marc Hourigan

Been using Jack Ross for a number of years. Good clear advice and nice people to do business with.

aj shelton

Jack Ross is based in Manchester and provides tax planning and Xero accounts. They are a long-standing and well-regarded firm with an excellent reputation. They provide their clients with exceptional service and a wealth of advice. I have no hesitation in using their professional services.

A Morris
Joanne Leach
Karen Openshaw

Jack Ross has been my accountants since I set up my business in 2016. From the outset I was helped with advice, support and encouragement. I cannot commend them highly enough. Always on hand to answer any question and responsive to any changes in the economy which might concern their clients. I don’t have to worry about the financial side of my business as all of that is taken care of and dealt with by Umar and the brilliant team. If you are looking for a top class accountancy firm which maintains the personal touch they are for you!

syra bano

I would recommend this account, knowledgable and helpful


I can confidently recommend Jack Ross Accountants. They are continually improving their service, greatly benefiting our company as well as me personally. The team at Jack Ross have helped suggest and set up innovative accounting software, adding training and support. This alone has been a massive step towards having more control and understanding of our company finances.

Cliff Lansley

We have enjoyed a solid and constructive relationship with JackRoss and Can highly recommend them for accountancy services.

Harry Lansley

We have been working with Jack Ross for over two years and the service has been fantastic. They have a great and knowledgable team who have taken good care of us and our accounts.

Moray Newberry

Meeting to review annual accounts and discuss future plans. Very productive as they definitely talk my language - on reflection probably the best such meeting in recent years. Many thanks Umar and Jamie

Paul Medcalfe

Jack Ross has serviced my Personal Tax requirements for the last 5 years. During some complicated challenges their advice was excellent and the customer service second to none and left me with no doubt all was in hand.


Following a recommendation, I have used Jack Ross for all my accounting needs (including payroll) since the inception of my business over 12 years ago. The relationship has been completely hassle free and I greatly value their service, which goes well beyond preparation of accounts. Their tax planning advice has been really helpful and I have always felt that they have ‘got my back’. Can’t recommend them enough.

oliver kirk

We have finally found the Accountancy firm that we have been looking for! We switched over to Jack Ross towards the end of last year and from the very first contact to the recent submission of our end of year accounts the service provided has been fantastic and has easily exceeded our expectations. Thank you!

Paul Clark

Excellent service; very helpful people and work done much quicker than I expected.


I have used Jack Ross as my accountants for a number of years. Their service is professional and accurate. They deal with queries promptly and I can always get hold of the person I need to speak to. Their digital product has made a big difference to the efficiency of my business. I would not hesitate to recommend them.

Rob Cowan

Jack Ross have been my family and business accountants and financial advisors for over 50 years. The delivery of services is second to none and i would recommend them to anyone. We have also built up great friendships over the years, above and beyond that of a normal business relationship which i value greatly.

Fee Munshi

We have been looked after by jack Ross for a number of years. They have given us fantastic tax advise and helped our company grow from strength to strength. A & f

Jonathan Foxcroft

Excellent advice and an understandable explanation of a very complex area of tax and corporate law which other (so called) advisors managed to totally confuse me. Thank you.

Holly Jones

I have had a relationship with Jack Ross for several years and continue to be impressed by the proactive support and diligent advice received across the breadth of the firm. Excellent at signposting.

Felix Mulderrig

Jack Ross have acted for our law company for over 5 years and have been professional, prompt, and knowledgable in all aspects of our dealing with them.

Tax Timelines and Deadlines: Payments and Notifications

Under the self-assessment regime, tax for each year is generally paid in two instalments:

  • First Payment: 31 January in the year of assessment.
  • Second Payment: 31 July after the end of the year of assessment.

For new practitioners, the entire tax for the first year will be due on 31 January following the end of the fiscal year in which practice commenced. Additionally, the first payment for the next year will also be due at that time, resulting in a total payment of 150% of the tax due for the first year.

Expert Guidance and Mentoring Schemes

As a junior barrister, it is invaluable to seek advice from more experienced members of your chamber or accountants like Jack Ross who specialise in barrister tax issues. Many chambers offer mentoring schemes to help newly qualified barristers understand these complexities.

Equip Yourself for Financial Success

Understanding tax rules is not just about compliance; it is about financial planning for your early years of practice as a junior barrister. These rules and timelines may seem complicated, but with careful planning and guidance, you can navigate them effectively.

Seeking specialised accounting services for barristers? Complete the contact form below and a Jack Ross advisor will be in touch to discuss tailored solutions.

Blog Enquiry Form

The basis period for tax assessment for junior barristers is defined in the Income Tax (Trading and Other Income) Act 2005 (ITTOIA). In the first year, it starts from the date you begin to practise and ends on the following 5 April. The second year’s basis period depends on your accounts and may involve more complicated rules.

Junior barristers generally pay tax in two instalments: the first payment is due on 31 January in the year of assessment, and the second payment is due on 31 July after the end of the year of assessment. For new practitioners, the entire tax for the first year is due on 31 January following the end of the fiscal year in which practice commenced.

Overlap profits may occur when the same profits form the basis for more than one tax year. These can be set off during a change in accounting date or at the cessation of practice. It’s advisable to consult with experienced members of your chamber or specialised accountants to navigate this complexity.

Professional Testimony

Charles Eastwood, Barrister,  St Johns Buildings Chambers

I would recommend Jack Ross Chartered Accountants as great leaders in the field of providing barrister accounting services.

Call back form

In Need of Expert Barrister Accounting Services?
At Jack Ross Chartered Accountants, we are barrister accounting experts. We have decades of specialised experience and hundreds of current barrister clients. Our accountants understand the legal profession and all of the intricate rules, ensuring your career rests on solid financial ground.

Give your legal practice the financial stability it deserves. Get in touch with Jack Ross Chartered Accountants now by completing the form below.

Get a Personal Consultation


Jack Ross Chartered Accountants, Barnfield House, The Approach, Manchester, M3 7BX

Open Hours

Monday-Friday 8:30 am - 5 pm