The Supreme Court recently upheld the Court of Appeal’s decision that Mr
Gaines-Cooper was a resident of the UK despite spending the majority of his
time in the Seychelles.
Mr Gaines-Cooper’s main argument centred on the application by HMRC of their guidance set out in the IR20 booklet on residence. This has since been replaced by HMRC6.
Despite following HMRC’s guidance on residence, Mr Gaines-Cooper was found to be UK resident. The case revolved around whether there was an ‘implied’ requirement for there to be a distinct break from the UK in order to become non-UK resident.
The case highlights the fact that HMRC guidance is not the law, and following it will not necessarily provide protection. Similar principles have applied in the taxpayers’ favour in recent cases on ‘reasonable excuse’ which have found HMRC’s guidance to be stricter than the actual wording of the legislation.
Going forward, the new statutory rules on residency should provide taxpayers with more clarity, however for prior years the case law principles will still apply.