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Couple Wins Tax Dispute: HMRC Loses £541,821 Property Tax Battle

Published by Chirag
Posted Date: October 18, 2023 , Modified Date: May 21, 2024

The UK's Upper Tribunal recently ruled in favour of a couple in a property tax dispute, determining that the couple's calculation for principal private residence relief was correct.

In a recent legal battle, a couple emerged victorious in their £541,821 property tax dispute against HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). The case revolved around the interpretation of "period of ownership," highlighting the complexity of tax regulations and the importance of understanding these intricacies.

The Tax Dispute

The dispute originated from the purchase of a plot of land for £1,679,000 by Gerald and Sarah Lee back in October 2010. The couple embarked on a journey to build their new home, demolishing the existing property. They resided in the newly constructed house from March 2013 until its sale in May 2014. During the sale, the Lees claimed principal Private Residence Relief (PRR) on the gain under the Taxation of Chargeable Gains Act 1992.

tax dispute

HMRC, however, challenged this claim, contending that PRR should apply to only a proportion of the gain. They argued that it should cover 18 months of the 43 months of property ownership. According to their interpretation, the period of ownership commenced with the purchase of the leasehold interest in the land.

The First Tier Tribunal (FTT)

The First Tier Tribunal initially ruled in Favour of the Lees. They rejected HMRC's position and allowed the couple's appeal against the closure notices issued by HMRC, demanding £541,821 in taxes due to a chargeable gain.

tax dispute

Undeterred by the FTT's decision, HMRC escalated the case to the Upper Tribunal. They claimed that the Lees' interpretation of "period of ownership" was inconsistent with case law, specifically citing the Court of Appeal's decision in Higgins v HMRC [2019] EWCA Civ 1860. Additionally, they argued that the Lees' interpretation could render certain tax legislation redundant.

Explore an in-depth case study in our article on " HMRC v Gerald and Sarah Lee: A Case for Private Residence Relief ". Read the full details and gain valuable insights into this tax-related matter.

The Upper Tribunal's Ruling

The Upper Tribunal ultimately dismissed HMRC's appeal. They emphasised that the enactment of the specific tax provision did not support HMRC's interpretation. Furthermore, they highlighted scenarios where the provision could be relevant, thus justifying the taxpayers' interpretation.

This case serves as a reminder of the importance of understanding complex tax regulations. It demonstrates that a clear understanding of the law and a strong legal defence can lead to favourable outcomes, even in disputes against government agencies.

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