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    Forest lose appeal

    Posted by The Outsider on 28/5/2024, 16:36:58

    In a win for HMRC, Nottingham Forest Football Club has lost an appeal against assessments for a historic VAT under-declaration

    The case first went to the First Tier Tribunal (FTT) in 2022 but the Premier League club has now had its appeal rejected at the Upper Tribunal on three grounds.

    HMRC issued the initial assessment to Nottingham Forest on 29 April 2019 relating to VAT for the quarter ending 08/15. However, the Club argued that HMRC had breached its one-year time limit for VAT assessments under section 73(6)(b) of VAT Act 1994.

    It was up to Nottingham Forest to prove this, a case which it lost at the FTT in 2022 and was later granted permission to appeal to the Upper Tribunal.

    The Club did attempt to correct the mistake at the time, submitting an error correction notice in November 2015 for £126,984.

    On 24 May 2018, HMRC notified the Club that it may have under-declared its output tax by £88,125, and over-declared its input tax by £258,409, a total of £346,534. The total figure was later increased to £348,177.

    HMRC officer Geoffery Bell and the finance officer for Nottingham Forest, John Taylor, had been liaising on the matter for six weeks since 16 April 2018.

    There was no penalty charge because HMRC said the ‘appellant’s error arose innocently from the change in its accounting system’. However, Bell thought this was still incorrect.

    The Club brought three grounds of appeal, the first being that ‘the FTT failed to apply the correct tests as set out in the relevant case law’.

    Secondly, ‘the FTT erred in its treatment of the burden of proof’, and thirdly ‘that 9 May 2018 was, on balance, the best date on which HMRC had evidence of the facts sufficient in their opinion to justify the making of the assessment was perverse because there was no evidence to support that finding’.

    They also argued that HMRC would have known all the information by 20 April 2018 as Bell had downloaded the general ledger from accounting software, Navision, on this date.

    This meant that the one-year period expired on 20 April 2019, so therefore the assessment made on 29 April was invalid.

    However, in his witness statement, Bell said: ‘The varying figures on the accounting documents provided for the VAT period 08/15 were put to the club by email on 24 May 2018.’

    Bell himself was not available to be cross-examined at either tribunal hearing as he had retired. At the FTT, Nottingham Forest’s lawyer Colin Smith said: ‘No weight should be given to officer Bell’s evidence’, as he did not appear in person.

    HMRC asked the Club for the historic data from their previous accounting software, Sage which was being used in 2015, and this was emailed to Bell on 9 May 2018. From this date the assessment would have been brought within plenty of time for the one-year time limit.

    On the burden of proof issue, Judge Greg Sinfield said: ‘This appeal would probably not have happened if either party had produced evidence of what was contained in the Navision and Sage records.’

    He added: ‘It is clear that the FTT were unable to make any finding about the two sets of data and what evidence of facts they contained.

    ‘The FTT did not make any positive finding of fact that HMRC had evidence of the facts sufficient to justify making an assessment on 9 May 2018 and nor, in our view, is one implied.

    ‘The FTT clearly states that they found it impossible to conclude on the evidence that officer Bell had knowledge of evidence of the facts sufficient, in his opinion, to justify the making of the assessment on 20 April which was the Club’s case.’

    The appeal was dismissed.

      Re: Forest lose appeal

      Posted by Carlisle fella on 28/5/2024, 16:43:13, in reply to "Forest lose appeal"

      30 points deducted then

        Re: Forest lose appeal

        Posted by Poole Hatter on 28/5/2024, 19:11:49, in reply to "Re: Forest lose appeal"

        Luton back to the Prem?

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