22 April 2024

Sadiya Choudhury KC gives “One minute with…” interview to Tax Journal

This interview with Sadiya Choudhury KC appeared in Tax Journal on 12th April 2024.

What’s keeping you busy at work? Before Christmas, I was busy finishing off my chapters for the Pump Court Tax Chambers Tax Litigation Handbook which was published in February. At present, I’m being kept busy with the usual round of advice and litigation. On the advice side, I’ve been seeing more queries regarding residence and domicile issues even before the Budget. On the litigation side, I am going to be in court almost once a fortnight until August in cases involving a range of issues. These include the application of the transfer of assets abroad legislation, the reimbursement of expenses by an umbrella company incurred by its workers, the application of the inheritance tax legislation to a guarantee, and whether a notice to file issued by HMRC using an automated process satisfies the requirement in TMA 1970 that such a notice be given by an officer.

If you could make one change to tax, what would it be?

An appeal against a refusal to restore goods or a vehicle due to non-payment of excise duty, or against an assessment for the unpaid duty, is heard by the tax tribunal. However, the seizure of the goods or vehicle can only be challenged by means of condemnation proceedings in the magistrates’ court. It would make far more sense for the tribunal to have jurisdiction to consider the legality of the seizure as opposed to being bound by a decision of another court or, more often, the failure to challenge the seizure before the magistrates by the appellant for whatever reason. For example, a haulier who hired out a vehicle to someone which was later seized because non-duty paid goods were found inside it would not be able to challenge the seizure of the goods if it did not own them. However, the failure to do so may count against it when seeking restoration of its vehicle.

Has a recent tax case caught your eye? Like many other tax professionals, I have quite enjoyed seeing the amount of interest generated by the recent VAT classification cases such as Innovative Bites (giant marshmallows), United Biscuits (UK) Ltd (Blissfuls biscuits), Walkers Snack Foods Ltd (Sensations poppadoms) and DuelFuel Nutrition Ltd (flapjacks). I am often asked by students about a career in law and these cases provide a useful conversation starter, especially as everyone can have an opinion on whether something is a snack or a cake. They also help demonstrate the breadth of tax law. I do hope though that they don’t end up giving the general newspaper reader the impression that this is the only newsworthy issue tax practitioners are concerned with.

What should we be looking out for later this year? The Court of Appeal is considering the operation of the rule in CTA 2009 ss 441 and 442 preventing the deduction of loan relationship debits on the grounds that the loan relationship had an unallowable purpose of tax avoidance in three cases in three months: BlackRock Holdco LLC5, which was heard on 5 and 6 March (in which I am HMRC’s junior counsel), Kwik-Fit Group Ltd due to be heard in April and JTI Acquisitions Company (2011) Ltd which is due to be heard in May. The general understanding of how these sections operate and what constitutes an unallowable purpose ought to be much clearer after the court hands down its decisions in all three cases, probably by this summer. The court may also address the question of how an apportionment of debits between a commercial purpose and the unallowable purpose ought to be carried out in one or more of them.

Finally, you might not know this about me but…

While being kept busy during lockdown with online hearings, video conferences, home schooling and making banana bread, I also found the time to finally learn how to solve a Rubik’s Cube. I’ll never be one of those people who can solve one in a matter of seconds but it still felt as if I had acquired a superpower.


Sadiya Choudhury KC  has a broad advisory and litigation practice across all areas of direct and indirect tax law. She appears regularly in the tax tribunals as well as courts at all levels.