In February, in a case between HM revenue and Customs (HMRC) and Robert Gaines-Cooper, it was decided in the Court of Appeal that Gaines-Cooper was liable to pay UK tax even though he spent less than 91 days a year here. The court decided this because “the centre of gravity of his life and interests” were still in the UK.
As reported in the Times, this may mean that anyone planning to relocate abroad so as to avoid UK tax would have to totally uproot themselves, family, business, hobbies and interests and place them firmly outside the UK. This for many, or their families, may well be a step too far.
The case of Robert Gaines-Cooper may go to the Supreme Court if he wins leave to appeal. From the website robertgainescooper.com: “Robert fell in love with the Seychelles in the early seventies. He bought a house there which he since has turned into a beautiful plantation home.
He married a Seychelloise lady and spends all his available free time at his home. He intends to stay there and die there. His will even states (sic) that his ashes are to be scattered on the island.”
He even has the support of the Seychelles Secretary of State.
If he becomes a legitimate tax target for HMRC then it is hard to see how anyone could evade their grasp.
However, is that a bad thing? Someone who can carry a UK passport and can, at virtually any time, return and seek the protection, help and use of services of the UK should surely be in the frame to pay the insurance policy premiums in the form of the taxes?
Another related question I have though is where does this leave our good peers such as Lords Ashcroft and Paul? Surely the centre of gravity of their lives and interests are sufficiently UK based as to make their non-domicile tax status a total nonsense?