This week the Court of Appeal court ruled a multi-millionaire living in the Seychelles was liable to pay UK taxes estimated at about £30 million.
Robert Gaines-Cooper, 72, has not spent more than 91 days in the UK in any tax year since 1976. But the court ruled this had no bearing on his tax status.
The court heard that Mr. Gaines-Cooper owns a house in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire; keeps a collection of paintings, classic cars and guns there; and that his second wife and son have lived on the estate for some time. Moreover, his son went to an English school in 2002. He also had his will drawn up under English law.
England remained the “centre of gravity of his life and interests”, the court found. Mr. Gaines-Cooper must face the “insuperable difficulty” that he never “left” England, since he failed to show “a distinct break” from his social and family ties in the UK, and never qualified for exemption from British taxes as a non-resident.
The Times says the ruling strikes “a serious blow for wealthy men and women who are based overseas but visit Britain frequently.” The paper also quotes accountants as saying the ruling is “very, very worrying” and would trigger increased scrutiny of British tax exiles by HM Revenue & Customs.
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