Tribunal – CGT residency issues
A recent Tribunal decision concerned the issue of whether a UK taxpayer had been successful in his efforts to achieve non-residence status.
This case involved a businessman who worked his way up from being an electrician to become Managing Director of a business which manufactured concrete flooring back in 1982. The business was the subject of an MBO led by the taxpayer in 1985 and the taxpayer’s shares in the business were held by way of non-resident family trusts. The business was sold in 1988 and re-acquired by the taxpayer through the family trusts before being sold once again in 1997. The taxpayer ultimately had a capital gain for the 1998-99 tax year of over £30 million before penalties and interest!
The Tribunal case relates to a discovery assessment made by HMRC in January 2005 and the case is complicated by the fact that over 10 years had passed since the events under scrutiny had taken place with minimal supporting documentation available.
The taxpayer entered into a service agreement to work full-time for a related company in the Netherlands for 15 months seeking to become non-UK resident at the time the capital gain crystallised in March 1999. HMRC argued that the taxpayer had remained resident in the UK and therefore subject to UK capital gains tax on the large capital gain.
The case concentrated on what exactly the taxpayer was doing in the Netherlands and found that he did not appear to work full-time for the Dutch company and in fact continued working also in the UK. The Tribunal established this by way of a detailed breakdown of the taxpayer’s movements using evidence such as credit cards and travel information. The issue of the taxpayer’s working in the Netherlands was also compounded by the fact that the taxpayer took ill on a flight to Barbados and ended up spending almost 4 months there before returning to the UK, never again returning to the Netherlands to work. The Tribunal eventually accepted that the extended stay was on medical grounds.
Ultimately, however the taxpayer’s appeal was dismissed and it was determined that the taxpayer was resident and ordinarily resident in the UK for the tax year 1998-99. The large capital gain was therefore subject to UK tax of over £30 million. The Tribunal also commented that if the taxpayer had been dual-resident the issue would also have been resolved in favour of the UK. This case is another in a long-line looking at residency issues and highlights some of the difficulties involved in securing non-UK resident status.