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HMRC’s tax avoidance litigation

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HMRC has published a list of the cases decided during 2018/19 in which tax avoidance was involved. See According to HMRC’s list, HMRC either won or partially won in all such cases, except for one defeat in a procedural case on voluntary returns in Patel & Patel [2018] UKFTT 185 (TC).

However, Rob Sharpe, senior associate at Clifford Chance, questioned the accuracy of HMRC’s list. ‘For example, one decision (Haworth [2018] EWHC 1271) is recorded as a ‘win’ for HMRC in the table when it has since been overturned by the Court of Appeal – a point acknowledged by HMRC only in the footnotes. A recent Upper Tribunal decision in favour of the taxpayer (Development Securities [2019] UKUT 169) isn’t included in this year’s table; while last year’s table (also updated last week) continues to include the related First-tier Tribunal decision as a ‘win’ for HMRC without mentioning that HMRC lost on appeal,’ Sharpe said. ‘And the table doesn’t include a range of other cases involving alleged tax avoidance such as IR35-related appeals, in which many taxpayers have been successful before the courts.’

‘The risk is that HMRC is presenting a misleading impression of winning more tax avoidance cases than it actually does,’ Sharpe added.

Issue: 1453
Categories: News