Businessman loses High Court appeal over tax case

Tuesday 12 January 2016 23.19
The case concerns a finding by the Revenue Commissioners that a tax return the businessman made 15 years ago was insufficient
The case concerns a finding by the Revenue Commissioners that a tax return the businessman made 15 years ago was insufficient

A businessman has lost a High Court appeal against a Circuit Court decision in relation to a tax case.

The man cannot be named pending legal argument over whether he is entitled to anonymity.

The case concerns a finding by the Revenue Commissioners that a tax return the businessman made 15 years ago was insufficient.

In 2010, an inspector of taxes sought information from the man in relation to his return for the tax year 1999/2000.

The man contested the inspector's right to make such an inquiry and, following an appeal in 2011, an Appeal Commissioner determined Revenue had a lawful right to do so.

The businessman then exercised his right to ask the Appeal Commissioner to state a case to the High Court on the matter. He was separately entitled to appeal the decision to the Circuit Court and did so.

Subsequently, a Circuit Court judge ruled in favour of Revenue by refusing to list the appeal for hearing in that court.

The judge decided the businessman had made a choice about which court the matter should be dealt in and was not entitled to pursue the matter in the lower court.

Ms Justice Iseult O'Malley agreed with the Circuit Court judge saying two courts cannot be seized of the same issue at the same time.

The aggrieved taxpayer must "make a choice as to which route to take" and to elect for the process considered to be the most beneficial to them, she said.

The businessman had, without accepting that his separate case stated to the High Court had not been submitted within the required deadline, attempted to have his appeal listed in the Circuit Court.

The Circuit Court judge was told the case stated had been transmitted to the High Court but that there was a pending application by Revenue to have that case struck out, Ms Justice O'Malley said.

The Circuit Court was not told whether the businessman was going to oppose the strike out.

The Circuit Court judge had no option but to decline to list the matter in that court, Ms Justice O'Malley said.

What occurred here was that the businessman had elected for the case stated procedure in the High Court, thereby depriving the Circuit Court of jurisdiction to deal with the appeal matter, she said.

Ms Justice O'Malley asked the parties for their views on whether the name of the businessman should be redacted from her judgment when it is published.

Counsel for Revenue said while a person is entitled to anonymity in a direct appeal, there was no such requirement when it comes before the High Court by way of case stated.

Senior Counsel for the businessman asked for time to consider the matter and the judge said she would hear arguments on it from both sides in the morning.

The name cannot be published pending a decision on that matter.