In Golamreza Qolaminejite aka Anthony Cooper v HMRC [2019] TC4277, “Cooper” a business tax investigation covered the years 2007 to 2010. The First Tier Tribunal's (FTT's) partially allowed an appeal against discovery assessments after considering the burden of proof from two different angles, from the burden of displacing an assessment and that of demonstrating culpability in order to allow a late assesssment.

  • In 2006/7 there were nine deposits into Mr Cooper’s bank account. These were, in HMRC’s parlance, “unexplained” as Mr Cooper had offered an explanation but that HMRC were not satisfied with it.
  • HMRC thought that the deposits were undisclosed business receipts and assessed Mr Cooper for tax.
  • Mr Cooper appealed the assessment. The burden of proof was on him show that, on the balance of probabilities, the assessment was wrong.  

The FTT was not satisfied that the evidence showed, on the balance of probabilities, that the deposits in question had a source other than trading activity.

  • HMRC was outside normal tax enquiry time limits for a Discovery Assessment
  • The Tribunal found that the omission of income was deliberate, “Mr Cooper knew that he had trading income and made a deliberate decision not to declare it”.  The burden of proof for that lies with HMRC. That is also established and uncontroversial law.

The FTT considered that in order to discharge the burden of showing that Mr Cooper knew that he had trading income, HMRC would first have to satisfy the Tribunal that the deposits in question were on the balance of probabilities trading income. They had, in the Tribunal’s view, failed to do that.  I

HMRC had therefore failed to discharge their burden of proof; the assessment for 2006/07 was not validly made and had to be discharged.

The FTT reduced the 2007/08 assement by £18,500, agreed that the 2008/09 assessment was valid and in time, and dimissed the 2009/10 assessment.


The taxpayer appealed this decision and the Upper Tribunal partially remade it and also refered it back to the FTT.


This abridged case write up is published courtesy of BKL. For BKL's full write up, comments and links to their services see Cooper case write-up by BKL.

Useful subscriber guides on this topic

Discovery Assessments
UPDATE: When can HMRC issue an assessment outside of the normal statutory time limits? What conditions must be met? What are your rights of appeal and defences?

How to appeal an HMRC decision
What type of a decisions are appealable? What are your different options when you disagree with HMRC? What are the key steps in making an appeal?

External links

Golamreza Qolaminejite aka Anthony Cooper v HMRC [2019] UKFTT 0713 (TC)