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Gaines-Cooper wins right to appeal to Supreme Court

Robert Gaines-Cooper has won the right to appeal to the UKs Supreme Court.

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HMRC is chasing Gaines-Cooper for tax backdated to 1982 which it believes the he owes under an interpretation of UK tax law which could have far reaching consequences, according to reports in Telegraph.

He lost his case in the Appeal Court in February but said he wants to fight on because the case raises important issues of clarity, consistency and fairness relevant to all taxpayers.

Gaines-Cooper is reported to have said he is not trying to evade tax and that his companies pay tax in 16 countries, including the UK and US, Canada, Italy, Australia, Singapore, Germany, Spain, South Africa and Japan.

He is quoted by the paper as saying: “The law has got to be made clear. This case is not just for myself. It’s about fighting for clarity in the UK tax system.

“The lack of transparency in the UK tax system means that no taxpayer can rely on guidance from the UK tax authorities.

“Moreover, HMRC’s aggressive approach assumes guilt and leaves taxpayers with the inference that they have deliberately avoided tax. In my case, that is simply wrong.”

HMRC won the case in February after the Court of Appeal upheld its view that Gaines-Cooper had not made a “clean break” with the UK after leaving it for tax reasons in 1976. In giving their ruling, the judges citied his family home in Henley-on-Thames, a UK-based collection of classic Rolls-Royce cars and his trips to Ascot.

However, Gaines-Cooper argued since leaving the UK he has obeyed the rule that gives non-resident status and tax benefits to anyone who spends no more than 90 days a year in the UK.

The Telegraph said his case had drawn support from other lawyers, with Peter Dempsey, a partner at Maitland Hudson & Co quoted as saying HMRC’s own guidance was so “cryptic” many people who reasonably relied on it had been caught out.

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