In a recent VAT case, the High Court has ruled that taxpayer’s application for judicial review of HMRC’s decision to withdraw its VAT ruling with retrospective effect, because the taxpayer had failed to make a full and accurate disclosure of material facts, should be dismissed.
HMRC’s Code of Practice 10 sets out when HMRC will provide information and guidance on the interpretation of tax law (see Resources below).
This case will be of interest to those seeking to obtain certainty of the tax treatment of particular arrangements, in advance or post transaction, by relying on both statutory and non-statutory rulings and clearances from HMRC, for example in relation to Enterprise Management Incentive schemes and share valuations.
It is clear from the decision, as would be expected, that a taxpayer may only rely on any type of clearance or ruling from HMRC if full and accurate facts are disclosed to HMRC, not only at the time when a ruling is being sought but also subsequently if any material changes occur.
Failure to correctly detail the circumstances and practical operation of the arrangements could result in a ruling being withdrawn by HMRC or rendered void ab initio, with a potentially significant associated cost if the tax treatment applied is subsequently determined by HMRC to be incorrect.