Union victory in seafarer tax case

Nautilus has won a crucial legal battle with HM Revenue & Customs over the rules for claiming seafarers’ income tax concessions.

In an important test case, a High Court judge has upheld the Union’s arguments that members serving on two ferries had a ‘legitimate expectation’ that they were entitled to the Seafarers’ Earnings Deduction.

Mr Justice Wyn Williams ruled that the tax authorities had, for many years, applied a ruling that the ‘days of absence’ from the UK began when a ship left a berth or anchorage in the UK on a voyage taking it out of territorial waters.

In a 24-page judgement, he said HMRC had failed to properly inform seafarers that there had been a change in this policy.

Nautilus senior policy advisor Peter McEwen welcomed the decision. ‘This has dragged on for many years and has been a long and drawn-out legal process. We are constantly having for fight HMRC’s attempts to shift the goalposts and it acted extremely unfairly,’ he added.

‘For an individual seafarer, the amounts of money are considerable. For the tax authorities it is not even petty cash and we believe HMRC should be directing its efforts at those who are seeking to evade their liabilities rather than targeting seafarers claiming a vital concession that has been agreed by successive governments for many years.’

Nautilus is to hold further talks with its lawyers to assess the implications of the ruling for other members and further information will be supplied by the Union following these discussions.

Read the judgement  and our SED campaign.


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Friday, May 11, 2012