Michael Thomas advises and litigates in relation to all areas of the UK tax code. His practice covers business tax, private client work and VAT. He has a particular interest in property tax and has advised on some of the UK’s largest real estate transactions and development projects. It has been said that “he has a strong tax record of success in tax litigation”, is “ahead of the game when it comes to property taxation” and "the go-to man for stamp duty land tax." Michael sits on the tax committee of The Country Landowners Association.
Michael recently hosted a webinar titled: Main purpose tests in anti avoidance rules. A recording of which can be viewed here.
Areas where Michael has recently been or is frequently instructed to advise include the following:
Site acquisitions for national housebuilders, especially in relation to VAT and SDLT. Including major developments at 9 Elms, other prime London locations and large regional sites;
Transactions in land rules;
Incorporation of residential property investment businesses;
Land pooling and other forms of collaboration agreement (prior to the sale of land for development);
Acquisitions of interests in partnership vehicles and related issues (including by financiers and on the buying out of private equity);
Ability to take advantage of double tax treaties, interest deductibility and general structuring advice (transactions in land rules, DPT etc) especially in relation to real estate development projects;
Availability of business property relief and agricultural property relief for inheritance tax;
VAT advice including the availability of zero-rating for buildings and disputed TOGC treatment;
Advising on individuals' domicile status;
De-enveloping of residential properties in light of the recent private client changes; Stamp duty land tax and
Tax treatment of shareholder debt.
Mostly acting for taxpayers against HMRC. When litigating Michael is mindful that the best result for a client rarely involves a contested hearing. He has a strong track record of achieving favourable outcomes without a trial including in relation to VAT (where a 7- figure repayment was received by a FTSE 100 company) and on employment taxes (where HMRC rescinded an assessment of several hundred thousand pounds following an internal review). Michael has significant experience of litigating the application of anti-avoidance rules.
His litigation practice also includes defending professional negligence actions, ligating tax deed claims and acting in civil fraud investigations under code of practice 9.
A copy of Michael's privacy notice can be found here.
- 1997-1998, PwC (now), Corporate Tax Department
- 2000-2001, Pupillage, Gray’s Inn Tax Chambers
- 2001 – 2015, Tenant, Gray’s Inn Tax Chambers
- 2015 – present, Tenant, Pump Court Tax Chambers
Author of Thomas on “Stamp Duty Land Tax” (1st and 2nd editions published by Cambridge University Press).
- VAT Practitioners Group
- Stamp Taxes Practitioners’ Group
- Country Landowners’ Association (Tax Committee)
- Practical Law Company Consultation Board
- Revenue Bar Association
- Chancery Bar Association
BA in Law (1st Class) and BCL from University College, Oxford.
What Others Say
Comments from Chambers Bar Guide
Taxpayer-side practitioner with a broad-based advisory and contentious tax practice, spanning business tax, indirect taxes and private client matters. He is particularly well versed in property tax matters, including stamp duty, and is an expert on corporate tax and tax treaties. Thomas is notable for the fact that during his first 13 years at the Bar he did not lose a case for either a taxpayer or any party to a civil claim where he had conduct at first instance.
“Collaborative and solution-driven,” “he is a creative, hands-on barrister who is both an excellent draftsman and advocate.” (2020)
“Practical and has an impressive knowledge of real estate taxation, particularly SDLT.” “He has a brilliant mind and really cares about the outcome.” (2020)
“His analysis is very thorough. He is clear and concise. He is good with clients and puts them at their ease.” “Excellent on property taxation. He gives straightforward, well-considered advice and is very responsive.” (2019)
“Very good to work with. He is very intelligent and commercially aware.” (2019)
“Michael’s advice is pragmatic, well analysed and sensible.” “A practical and approachable barrister.” (2018)
Particularly highly regarded by market commentators as “the go-to man for stamp duty land tax.” “Michael is an extremely articulate advocate and focuses on the key points in a case, narrowing the issues to ones which are winnable and most easily understood by the judge. When giving opinions, Michael is frank about the prospects and has usefully discouraged litigation in favour of dialogue with HMRC on a number of occasions, saving clients considerable costs and uncertainty.” (2017)
“particularly strong on real estate-related tax matters.” (2017)
“if I needed someone for advising on the tax aspects of residential property offshore I would consult him.” (2016)
“Very practical, very knowledgeable and very proactive in his advice. He’s also very collaborative in his approach and you can always talk through issues with him.” (2015)
“He is very popular as he provides, speedy, considered responses. He also comes back to us, tells us the risks and is positive.” (2015)
“popular choice with clients, who describe him as ‘supreme in his analysis’ and ‘a lawyer who provides solutions in a simple manner.’ He is held in especially high regard for his work in property tax, but also has a strong corporate and business tax practice.” (2012)
“a very bright, practical guy, whose strongest qualities are his attention to detail and his commercial appreciation.” (2010)
Comments from Legal 500 2018
‘He is excellent for real estate tax.’
‘One of the leading barristers on real estate taxes.’