Expat James Glyn found his wife’s passion for cooking was almost a recipe for financial disaster when HM Revenue and Customs served him up a £5.5 million tax bill.
Property entrepreneur Glyn and his wife Sarah moved to Monaco and sold up assets worth £29 million, claiming no capital gains tax was owed as they were now non-resident in Britain.
But HMRC challenged their claim and considered they were still subject to tax in Britain as they regularly returned for his wife to cook at dinner parties.
Sarah Glyn is a talented chef much in demand for charity dinners and entertaining at parties.
HMRC argued that their regular visits to Britain for her to host dinners and to serve up meals to family and friends meant they had not really permanently left the country, so could not be considered non-resident.
If this was the case, then the £5.5 million tax assessment would stand.
Mr Glyn, 64, argued their case before a tax tribunal, explaining he had spent more than 30 years in charge of the family’s extensive £60 million property holdings when he and his wife decided to retire to Monaco.
The couple, who had lived in St John’s Wood, London, decided to move, leaving family to sell off the property.
Glyn received a £29 million dividend from the family company after the sales completed.
HMRC claimed that retaining the home and regularly visiting friends in London demonstrated he had not broken his ties with Britain and owed the tax on the dividend. HMRC pointed out the couple even had resident parking permits for their cars left in London.
The tribunal judge disagreed with HMRC, pointing out the couple never exceeded to 90-day limit for staying in the country during a tax year and had bought an apartment in Monaco before moving overseas that was destined to be their home.
He confirmed the Glyns had made the ‘distinct break’ required under tax law to become non-resident and dismissed the tax assessment.
Ruling that they had “unquestionably acquired a habitual abode in Monaco”, the explained the couple had enjoyed the affluent, sun-filled, lifestyle of Monaco and were involved in its “countless attractions”.
“They wanted to live in Monaco in every sense and had done so for personal reasons that were beyond merely camping abroad to avoid tax,” said the judge.
The tribunal was also told the couple had returned to Britain to live permanently in May 2010 after the birth of a grandchild.