A PROTRACTED battle between a businessman and HMRC has been heard at the highest court in the land.

Andrew Tinkler, the former chief executive of the Cumbria-based Stobart Group, has been embroiled in a 17-year row with the taxman over an investigation into his tax affairs that has now reached the UK Supreme Court.

Mr Tinkler, 57, is attempting to get an investigation into his tax affairs, dating back to 2003, voided as the revenue sent him a notice of the enquiry to an old address.

HMRC argued that, although the notice was sent to Mr Tinkler’s former address, it did notify his accountants BDO Stoy Hayward LLP.

Mr Tinkler claimed losses in his 2003/4 tax return due to losses made in a gilt strip scheme, but the loss was mistakenly not included in his tax returns. 

HMRC responded that they would be making an enquiry into the return and therefore it could not be amended, but sent the letter to Mr Tinkler’s previous address.

The tax office appealed a Court of Appeal judgement, which found that although HMRC sent notification to Mr Tinkler’s accountants, BDO had no authority to receive a notice on his behalf.

The appeal also found that Mr Tinkler is not legally prevented – or 'estopped' – from denying that HMRC had opened a valid enquiry. HMRC’s appeal resulted in the Supreme Court case heard this week.

The court heard submissions from Malcolm Gammie QC representing HMRC and Roger Thomas QC representing Mr Tinkler.

Mr Gammie said: “It has never been suggested that he would have acted differently should he have received the enquiry letter sent to his old address.”

Mr Thomas argued: “No criticism can be levelled at Mr Tinkler when eventually finding out some seven years later that HMRC had sent a notice of enquiry to the wrong address he relies on their failure to comply as a full defence to the closure notice."

Adjourning the case, Lord Patrick Hodge, deputypresident of the Supreme Court, said: “The court will take time to consider this matter which clearly is of some importance. We will produce a judgement in due course.”