When is a claim ‘made’ to HMRC?

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The taxpayer argued that a claim had been made when it was completed and sent to the wrong e-mail address, not when HMRC received it.

This appeal arises from a claim by the appellant for a repayment of overpaid output VAT on green fees and whether the claim was made ‘in time’. The claim in question had to be made by the 31 March 2009, but had been sent with an incorrectly addressed email on 31 March 2009.

The email was not received by HMRC. The appellant did not recall having received any acknowledgement or non-delivery message in response to the email, so was not aware of its non-receipt.

The appellant argued that there was a distinction between a claim being ‘made’ and that same claim being notified or communicated to HMRC. The distinction was analogous to the distinction between an assessment being ‘made’ and then subsequently being ‘notified’ to the taxpayer. In its submission, the appellant had clearly ‘made’ a claim in the relevant sense (that is to say, in a way analogous to HMRC ‘making’ an assessment, distinct from ‘notifying’ it). Having clear evidence that it had done so before the 1 April 2009 deadline (in the form of the emails sending it to the wrong email address), it was not time-barred and the subsequent notification of that claim to HMRC (when it was resent, as an attachment to the email dated 22 December 2010) did not fall foul of the time limit in section 121 Finance Act 2008.

The question before the Tribunal was at what point in time could it properly be said that the appellant’s repayment claim was ‘made in writing to the Commissioners’ in the circumstances outlined above?

The Tribunal considered that the difficulty with the appellant’s case was that it did not send the claim to the correct email address. That is the modern equivalent of misaddressing a letter sent through the postal service, but with the added factor that even a single misplaced character in an email address means the email will not reach its destination. Unfortunately, the appellant made a mistake and did not include the crucial ‘gsi’ element in the email address to which the claim was intended to be sent. The appellant had clearly been working at speed under a great deal of pressure in compiling the claim but, unfortunately, none of that could affect the Tribunals view that the mistake in the email address meant that the claim had clearly not been made ‘to the Commissioners’ before 1 April 2009 and the appeal was, therefore, dismissed.

Edgbaston Golf Club Ltd v Revenue and Customs [2018] UKFTT 189 (TC)

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