Friday, March 24, 2006



Dr Chauhan is a dentist. As such he is clearly not a tax expert. He did not understand the complex rules that applied to self-employed people when self-assessment was introduced in 1996. He felt particularly upset that, while all around him seemed to be benefiting from the transitional rules, his tax inspector demanded more tax from him than under the old rules.

As he was entitled to, he appealed to the General Commissioners for Hammersmith. They expressed sympathy with his plight but explained that the law was on the side of HMRC. Dr Chauhan, whose profits were running at a meagre £16,000 or so a year, exercised his right to appeal, as a litigant in person, to the High Court. The judge accepted the argument on the law put forward by counsel for HMRC. He acknowledged that “Dr Chauhan appears in person and plainly has a sense of grievance”.

In most cases where an aggrieved taxpayer appeals as a litigant in person HMRC have not in the past asked for costs. However they asked for, and were awarded costs of £4,792.50 against Dr Chauhan. That is getting on for 50% of one year’s post-tax income of Dr Chauhan!

Dr Chauhan probably now feels not merely aggrieved but also bewildered that the State has demanded such a harsh punishment for daring to exercise the rights that Parliament has given him to challenge the tax demands of the State.

Are you proud to be English? I don’t myself feel proud to be a citizen of a State that acts with such harshness.

Robert W Maas


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