The Church of Scientology, which includes members Tom Cruise and John
Travolta, has won a VAT tribunal ruling that has cost HM Revenue & Customs
at least £4.1m, and could run into hundreds of millions of backdated VAT claims.
The tribunal ruled that the Scientologists could claim back overpaid tax
beyond the usual period of three years following an earlier case that involved
Michael Fleming, an Aston Martin dealer and descendant of James Bond writer Ian
Fleming, which saw the three-year rule scrapped.
The latest case is the first time the lack of time limitation to claim back
VAT has been tested, according to The Daily Telegraph.
Paddy Behan, a Grant Thornton tax partner, said that the firm had 130 cases
resting on the two cases.
Claims could now go back as far as when the tax was introduced in 1973.
The original Scientologist battle revolved around gaining charitable status,
which would make it tax-exempt – a battle won by the Scientologists in 2000.
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Unincorporated businesses under the VAT threshold given an extra year to prepare before MTD becomes mandatory