TaxPersonal TaxChaos looms as ‘husband and wife’ appeal date set

Chaos looms as 'husband and wife' appeal date set

Appeal date for long-running Section 660A tax case in the diary, but result may not be in time for thousands of small businesses who must complete self-assessment forms by the end of Jan 2006

The landmark S660A or ‘husband and wife’ tax test case between Geoff and
Diana Jones of Arctic Systems and HM Revenue & Customs will be heard at the
Court of Appeal on 17 and 18 January 2006.

However, the delayed date could cause chaos for thousands of small
businesses, as a definitive result is unlikely to emerge in time for the 2004/5
self-assessment deadline.

In a statement the Professional Contractors Group, that has financially
supported the Jones’s with a public appeal throughout the case, said it had
hoped that the result would be known ‘before’ the 31 January deadline for income
tax self-assessment returns, but that the appeal for expedition had been
‘refused’.

Simon Juden, PCG chairman reiterated that the case has ‘huge implications’
for thousands of small family companies.

‘We have always argued that this case is of clear and significant public
importance, making it unfortunate that we have had to resort to a public appeal
to fund it, so it comes as no surprise to us that the Master of the Rolls has
taken this view. Unfortunately, his stance does mean that we will not have a
result in time for the 2004/5 self-assessment deadline.’

The group, which represents over 10,000 freelance small businesses, said that
‘£1bn in annual tax revenues’ depended on the outcome of the Arctic case.

‘This is deeply troublesome for hundreds of thousands of taxpayers and their
advisers who will face further uncertainty about the classification of income
and calculation of tax due’, said Juden.

‘We call upon HMRC urgently to issue new guidelines regarding the completion
of self-assessment returns, and as always, our services are on offer to help
them draw up such guidelines and mitigate the potential uncertainty for
taxpayers’, he added.

James Kessler QC who is also supporting the Jones’s said: ‘As a tax lawyer, I
strongly believe that the HMRC argument in the Arctic case is simply wrong in
law as well as unfair.

‘Although the sum at stake in this, or any similar case, is not sufficiently
large to justify an appeal, without a test case to clarify the law, for the
benefit of everyone, then bad tax law results.’

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