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Football Match Attendance Proves Pivotal in UK Residency Tax Dispute

In order to establish that you have become a non-UK resident for tax purposes, you need to show a change in the pattern of your life amounting to a real loosening of your ties to this country. A wealthy businessman who failed to pass that test had reason to regret his continued attendance at football matches in England.

There was no dispute that the property entrepreneur was resident in Belgium during two tax years. However, HM Revenue and Customs took the view that he was also a UK resident during that period and assessed him for Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax on that basis.

Ruling on the man's appeal against that decision, the First-tier Tribunal (FTT) noted that he had a home and office premises in Belgium and had established a habitual abode there during the relevant period. He travelled widely on business and spent a great deal more time abroad than he did in England.

On the other hand, he maintained business relationships in this country and stayed on as chairman of the corporate group he founded. Even before the relevant tax years, he travelled regularly on business and spent significant periods outside the UK at his family's holiday home.

He made fairly brief visits to his family in England for Christmas, birthdays and the like. Although his appearance on the football stands was less frequent than before, he continued to be a loyal fan and attended many of his team's home and away matches.

Overall, the FTT was satisfied that there had been a change in the pattern of his life. However, in the context of an individual who had been resident in the UK since birth, that change was not such as to constitute a sufficient loosening of his ties to this country. He had thus remained a UK resident throughout the relevant tax years.

His argument that he was entitled to be treated as a non-UK resident by reason of the double taxation arrangements between this country and Belgium also fell on fallow ground. In the absence of agreement, a dispute over the amount of the assessments would be the subject of a further hearing.

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