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Contentious tax in 2020

Speed read
Despite a fairly quiet year in contentious tax, involving remote working by the courts and tribunals, there have been some significant cases, including confirmation of what we knew (JJ Management on HMRC’s ability to conduct informal investigations); a change in judicial thinking by the UK’s highest court (FII on restitution for tax paid under a mistake of law); and some new rulings on familiar topics, such as unallowable purpose (BlackRock) and the interaction of UK law with double tax treaties (Fowler and Irish Bank Resolution Corporation Ltd). We’ve also seen indications of a tougher approach by HMRC, with examples of it seeking to resile from settlements or clearances on the grounds of inadequate disclosure (GE and Boulting), as well as an increased willingness to challenge claims of privilege.

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