Tax firm boss fined for stamp duty avoidance
David Hannah, founder of tax advice firm Cornerstone, has been fined by the Upper Tax Tribunal after losing an appeal against a verdict that found that he avoided tens of thousands in stamp duty on the purchase of his home, The Times reports.
Hannah has been ordered to repay the £30,600 stamp duty he avoided plus a penalty of more than £17,000.
The court was heard that Hannah listed the 5% deposit he paid for the property, £38,250, as the full purchase price with the Land Registry and concealed the rest of its £765,000 value.
The Times reports that the remainder of the price was then paid to the sellers through an annuity registered in the British Virgin Islands.
HMRC described the scheme as “a clear attempt at stamp duty avoidance”.
Delivering a written verdict at the tribunal, Mr Justice Morgan and Judge Swami Raghavan upheld the verdict of the first tier tribunal in 2019 that Hannah’s avoidance of stamp duty had been “deliberate” and noted that he had refused to give evidence himself to explain why this was not so.
The judges said: “HMRC’s case as to the deliberate inaccuracy called for an explanation which Mr Hannah ought to have been in a position to give, if one were available.
“The inference was that Mr Hannah had not given an explanation because his explanation, and a testing of that explanation by cross-examination, would not have supported his case.”
The Times added that Hannah plans to take the case to the Court of Appeal.