HMRC is celebrating a legal victory after the Court of Appeal ruled against a £68m scheme used to avoid stamp-duty land tax (SDLT), overturning a previous ruling by the upper tribunal.
HMRC has won four other major SDLT cases this year, worth almost £400m.
The latest scheme involved the purchase of the former Dickens and Jones building in Regent Street, London by DW3, a property developer, which tried to avoid paying £2.6m SDLT by selling the leasehold interest to a partnership in which it had a 98% interest.
The upper tax tribunal ruled that the scheme worked. HMRC took the case to the Court of Appeal.
In his judgement (The commissioners for HMRC and DV3 RS Limited Partnership, EWCA 907), Lord Justice Lewisin, said that DW3 claimed to have “devised a simple and elegant” scheme to avoid SDLT but “in the real world” the company had acquired a chargeable interest in the property and was therefore liable to pay tax.
HMRC said the appeal ruling could set a precedent for 87 other cases.
David Gauke, exchequer secretary to the Treasury said the ruling was an “excellent win” that will protect taxpayers’ money.
Tax expert John Christian of law firm Pinsent Masons, said: “The taxpayer’s successes before the First Tier and Upper Tribunals have vanished before an elegant interpretation of the legislation by the Court of Appeal.”
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