The Supreme Court upheld the Court of Appeal’s decision that Gaines-Cooper was a resident of the UK despite spending most of his time in the Seychelles. The dispute is around IR20, which was the authority’s guidance on what constitutes residency for tax purposes.
Although Gaines-Cooper claims to have followed the guidance, HMRC and a number of court rulings found he retained strong links to the UK, which meant he was resident. The decision announced today was on a 4-1 split. The majority of Lord Justices found that even under a full reading of IR20, Gaines-Cooper was not resident. Paragraphs 2.1, 2.7, 2.8 and 2.9 of the document indicated that a claim for non-residency would generate a “multifactorial consideration” of an individual’s circumstances, the judges found. There was “insufficient evidence” that HMRC had departed from IR20 as a matter of settled practice, they added. The appelant’s evidence that HMRC had done so was “far too thin and equivocal”, they said.
The judges said that HMRC’s position on how to achieve non-residency “should have been much clearer” Lord Mance, who dissented, said it would be “remarkable” if there were a requirement for a distinct break when no such requirement was clearly expressed. The case has been cited by commentators as one of the catalysts for the statutory residency test, on which the government has just finished consulting.
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