The UK residency case of Robert Gaines-Cooper has returned to court.
The case of Mr Gaines-Cooper is well known amongst UK expats, and those who are interested in HMRCs confusing residency regulations.
Formerly of Reading, England, successful businessman Gaines-Cooper moved abroad back in 1976. Following HMRCs rules throughout his life, Gaines-Cooper thought that he was perfectly within his non-residency rights to not pay UK taxes.
However, HMRC thought otherwise and dragged Gaines-Cooper to court, where they proceeded to declare that they did not believe Gaines-Cooper had adequately broken his ties to the UK and was thus liable for UK tax. Gaines-Cooper was immensely aggrieved by this, as he had followed the HMRC guidelines regarding the amount of time he was allowed to spend in the country.
His appeals fell on deaf ears though, as he was indeed found to be liable for tax and subsequently hit with a huge back-dated tax bill. This ruling reverberated throughout the British expat community, as many feared that they too could be summoned into court despite having followed regulation.
Now, Mr Gaines-Cooper has returned to court to appeal his case, and he has a chance to have the ruling regarding his residency overturned. In a statement, Gaines-Cooper has said: “It is a mystery to me why this case has come so far over so many years and ended up in the Supreme Court, when all I sought was fairness and the right to rely on published guidance from HMRC when planning my tax affairs. I have every confidence in my advisers and in the British legal system and so will be following proceedings over the coming days with interest, as you might imagine.”
HMRC has faced huge criticism for the seemingly random manner in which it deals with residency. Despite a set of guidelines laid out, HMRC often disregards these and looks at cases on a purely individual basis. Off the back of this it was recently announced that plans have been put into place to finally create a clear definition of what it takes to be a non-resident.