Living Abroad Did Not Make A British Couple Expats

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A British couple who moved overseas but made regular visits to the UK of fewer than 90 days a year were still resident in the UK because they had not made a clean break from the country.

Anthony and Sally Peck wanted to retire to the South of France after Mr Peck suffered serious injuries in a road accident.

They rented a home in Monaco while regularly visiting the UK.

Over the years, the pattern of trips was:

  • 2006/7 13 visits, 76 midnights in the UK
  • 2007/8 12 visits, 78 midnights in the UK
  • 2008/9 8 visits, 81 midnights in the UK
  • 2010/11 6 visits, 88 midnights in the UK
  • 2011/12 6 visits, 68 midnights in the UK

HM Revenue & Customs argued that the diary of trips was not relevant because the couple had not broken their links with the UK because when in the country they stayed at their former home, which they told the First Tier Tribunal they considered a holiday cottage.

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Appeal against HMRC closure notices

Other factors that tipped the balance for their home being in the UK was until 2010, they kept a car in the country until insurers declined cover.

Their post continued to go to their former home, including council tax bills, utility bills and bank statements.

The couple also had a property business in the UK and spent most weekdays on their trips to Britain as work days.

The Pecks were appealing against closure notices issued by HMRC deeming they were tax resident in the UK during the time they claimed they lived abroad.

Living in two places at once

Their appeal was dismissed by the tribunal.

“We find they had a settled abode in the UK and that their presence in the UK was of sufficient time and had sufficient degree of permanence and continuity as to constitute residence,” said Judge Sarah Allatt.

“Although a person can have only one domicile at a time, he may simultaneously reside in more than one place. Mr and Mrs Peck were resident in Monaco at the periods of time in question. It is also clear that this does not preclude their simultaneous residence in the UK.”

The tribunal also noted that under the statutory resident test, the couple would have been declared non-resident. The test was introduced in April 2013 and is not retrospective.

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