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Cliff edge: the meaning of ‘deliberate’

Speed read
In Cliff v HMRC, the tribunal interpreted ‘deliberate’ as ‘a conscious choice to act in a certain way’; there was no requirement to show an intention not to pay tax or to act without good faith. The decision erodes the behavioural distinction between ‘careless’ and ‘deliberate behaviour’, and it would mean that taxpayers taking a bona fide view of the law and acting with care may nerveless be subject to the severe sanctions that attach to the ‘deliberate’ penalty regime. In the authors’ opinion, this reasoning is not justified on policy grounds or as a matter of statutory interpretation.

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