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Frustrated taxpayer fails repeatedly at tribunal

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Philip Jinks continued to fight his cases at the first tier tribunal (FTT), without tax advice, and was disappointed that the FTT could not cure any shortcomings in HMRC’s behaviour.

30th Jun 2023
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Philip Jinks was the director shareholder of various companies. The income and benefits from several of these companies was the subject of a HMRC enquiry in respect of the 2007/08 and 2008/09 tax years.

In short, Jinks’ tax returns did not match the information HMRC held, leading to an assessment of tax totalling £60,276 and the issue of penalties. This passed to the first tier tribunal (FTT), however Jinks was unable to support his claims that there had been a salary waiver in place, nor that the benefits in question related to pool cars and exempt accommodation. The FTT therefore found in HMRC’s favour.

Jinks tried to have this decision reconsidered by the upper tribunal (UT), however the UT refused. 

Second appeal

Jinks instead returned to the FTT in September 2020, alleging that HMRC had not acted in accordance with the Tax Management Act 1970 (TMA). The period before the hearing was a bit of a jumble, with several of Jinks’ requests and submissions either not being passed to HMRC or seemingly not being acted on. 

This led to several misunderstandings, with Jinks, perhaps understandably feeling hard done by, as at times HMRC appeared to be ignoring various matters. However, the FTT were able to look at the big picture and found that HMRC’s behaviour was correct, based on the correspondence it had actually seen.

Part of Jinks’ case was that HMRC had allegedly destroyed evidence and failed to protect his personal data. HMRC argued that the appeal should be struck out on the basis that these were not appealable decisions. The FTT agreed that it had no jurisdiction over HMRC’s (perceived) behaviour in these matters.

The remaining issue was that Jinks had asked for an earlier letter he had sent to be treated as an overpayment relief claim. HMRC’s responses had not been in a format Jinks could appeal against, therefore he requested that the FTT force HMRC to issue an appealable decision. The FTT again confirmed this was outside its jurisdiction.

Jinks’ appeal was struck out.

Current appeal

Jinks made one last (to date at least) attempt at pleading his case. His grounds this time were that he hadn’t been aware that his previous appeal would be decided prior to a disclosure application he had made.

The FTT agreed to set aside the previous decision and arranged a new hearing for after the disclosure application was decided, which happened in August 2022.

Jinks’ appeal in its latest form referred to six issues. Four of these were similar to the previous hearing, focussing as they did on HMRC shortcomings and claims of unfair treatment. The FTT judge, as had their predecessor, found that the FTT had no jurisdiction to make decisions on HMRC’s behaviour and alleged breaches of confidentiality.

The two remaining points, relating to two letters Jinks had sent to HMRC in November 2018, were considered in more detail.

Tax refund letter

The first set out what Jinks claimed to be overpaid tax of £94,240 for the seven years to 5 April 2014, based on earnings attributed to, but not received by, him.

However, Jinks was within self-assessment and so should have claimed these amounts by amending his returns within the standard 12 month deadline. Even if, for some reason, this had not been possible, an overpayment relief claim must be made within four years of the end of the tax year in question; all of the periods were therefore outside this window.

The FTT confirmed it did not have any powers to make HMRC extend the prescribed time limits, regardless of how unfair Jinks felt this was.

Loss clarification letter

The second letter included a schedule showing loans of some £356,347 Jinks had made to his various companies, which he claimed entitled him to loss relief as they “converted to shares if not repaid”.

The FTT found that HMRC’s refusal to allow these losses was not an appealable decision. Further, there was no evidence to support the existence of the loans, nor that they were later converted to shares capable of attracting negligible value claims.

There was therefore nothing Jinks could appeal and so all of Jinks’ grounds for appeal were struck out.

Conclusion

The impression given by these hearings is that Jinks did not understand why his claims were not being allowed. This is partly due to some communication issues, particularly during the second case above, but also because he represented himself at all times. 

Jinks likely would have benefitted from involving a tax specialist, who could have explained the issues and the limits of the FTT’s powers in detail and perhaps saved Jinks some time and effort.

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Replies (8)

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By Hugo Fair
30th Jun 2023 18:12

When you're in a hole stop digging ... or at the very least use the right equipment instead of bare hands - and stop relying on hope instead of professional advice.

Of course it's an even better idea to avoid stepping into the hole in the first place ...

Thanks (2)
the sea otter
By memyself-eye
30th Jun 2023 18:26

Looks like 'Jinks' was jinxed.
Stupid is as stupid does....

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Mark Lee headshot 2023
By Mark Lee
30th Jun 2023 18:36

I'd echo all Rickie says here and suggest there are 2 more transferable lessons to add to that in the final line of his piece.

1 - GET YOUR APPEAL RIGHT
As the judge here said: "Claims made by taxpayers on the basis that the relevant HMRC decision maker acted unreasonably, irrationally or unfairly are matters to be decided by judicial review. [Normally all] judicial review claims must be made to the High Court".

Such claims are costly and time consuming to pursue. The Judge here had no choice but to dismiss the appeal.

2 - GET YOUR TERMINOLOGY AND TIMING RIGHT
In this case Mr Jinks argued that his tax refund letter was plainly a claim to be repaid tax which had been incorrectly paid over by him or on his behalf and was thus a claim for overpayment relief.

Mr Jinks did not include any of his claims in his SA returns and did not amend them within the time limit. Key deadlines had also passed by the date of Mr Jinks’ tax refund letter. Thus, all of Mr Jinks’ tax refund claims were made outside the relevant time limits and were dismissed.

Returning to Rickie's final line I agree with the suggestion to GET EXPERT PROFESSIONAL ADVICE

It is clear that had Mr Jinks, taken and LISTENED to expert professional advice, he could have saved himself a lot of time and effort.

One common issue faced by accountants generally is that disputes such as this one involving Mr Jinks, are not every day occurrences. As such it can take a lot of time (and potentially fees) to research matters that are commonly understood by tax experts who deal with such matters day in, day out.

Also, involving independent tax experts can provide clients with greater confidence that the advice they are getting is informed, expert and reliable.

Either way, involving tax experts, such as members of the Tax Advice Network, can help ensure that winnable cases are presented in the most effective way and that lost causes are recognised as such before excess time and effort are invested in them.

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By Mr J Andrews
03rd Jul 2023 10:57

Rickie : your conclusion is that Jinks would likely have benefitted from involving a tax specialist.
I would suggest that any tax specialist reading this article is thanking God that Jinks didn't approach them.

Thanks (3)
Replying to Mr J Andrews:
By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
03rd Jul 2023 12:35

Quite.

Presumably he knows better than tax accountants anyhow. Who needs 'em! Always telling you cant cant claim this, or that, that things are out of time, siding with HMRC etc etc etc.

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Replying to ireallyshouldknowthisbut:
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By geoffmw1
03rd Jul 2023 14:13

one of those who if they use an accountant end up tryi9ng to claim the fees back

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Replying to ireallyshouldknowthisbut:
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By AndyC555
04th Jul 2023 13:29

He may well have relied on his mate down the pub. They always have great advice on tax planning.

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By ireallyshouldknowthisbut
03rd Jul 2023 12:34

.

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