The tax man wins again

The First Tier Tax Tribunal considers whether a bankrupt has standing to appeal against assessments to tax raised by HMRC.

In November 2011 HMRC issued tax assessments for capital gains tax against Ms Horsley.  Almost two years later she sought permission to appeal out of time against the assessments.  Following a stay of the appeal, Ms Horsley failed to engage with the Tribunal and her application was struck out in November 2014.

In June 2015, Ms Horsley was made bankrupt.  She was discharged from bankruptcy a year later. In 2017, Mrs Horsley applied to the tribunal to have the appeal reinstated. 

At the hearing, HMRC submitted Ms Horsley had no standing to appeal because all decisions that could be subject to her original appeal would have vested in the trustee in bankruptcy ( s283 of the Insolvency Act 1986, citing Heath v Tang [1993]1 WLR1421) .  HMRC also argued that Ms Horsley’s discharge made no difference (citing Artsrunik v Waller [2004] STC[SCD) 151).

Ms Horsley argued that she had been discharged, that she had complained against her trustee in bankruptcy claiming a conflict of interests.

The Tribunal found that Ms Horsley no longer had any right to pursue an appeal in respect of tax assessments made for the period preceding her bankruptcy, particularly as the assessments were issued before the bankruptcy.  The Tribunal recognised that the trustee in bankruptcy had the standing to appeal, and that whilst the Tribunal had the power to inform the trustee of the proceedings it did not consider that it was appropriate to do so.

Horsley –v the Commissioners for Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs [2019] UKFTT 13

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