In Shu Fang Yang v Revenue Scotland [2020], the First Tier Tribunal (FTT) for Scotland Tax Chamber held that ignorance of the law is not a reasonable excuse for late submission of the three-year LBTT Lease Review Return (LBTT return).

  • On 9 September 2016, Shu Fang Yang acquired airport car parking spaces on a lease as an investment and submitted an LBTT return in respect of car parking spaces on 9 September 2016, 38 days late.
  • Revenue Scotland sent a reminder to submit the three-year LBTT return in August 2019, including a reminder of the due date for return and an outline of penalties.
  • The LBTT return was submitted on 8 November 2019 and Revenue Scotland issued a penalty on 30 October 2019.
  • Shu Fang Yang chose to Appeal directly to the Tribunal, rather than to Revenue Scotland or seeking a review of the decision to impose the penalty. 
  • Her grounds for appeal were that she had a Reasonable excuse for late filing: she was unfamiliar with the requirements of Scots law.

The FTT Scotland considered:

  • Whether Revenue Scotland had correctly imposed the penalty at the correct amount in respect of the LBTT return.
  • As Revenue Scotland had no grounds to justify a reduction in the penalty, the burden of proof turned to Shu Fang Yang.
  • It had to be decided whether being unaware of Scots law and the difficulties with the investment scheme which gave rise to the LBTT return reporting requirement, constituted a reasonable excuse or special circumstances.

The FTT found:

  • No evidence was provided to demonstrate steps taken to ensure that the LBTT return was filed on time: a reasonable taxpayer should at the very least be expected to take reasonable steps to ascertain what are his or her tax obligations.
  • It was for Shu Fang Yang to ascertain the relevant legal requirements and to comply with them.
  • Shu Fang Yang did not demonstrate the actions of a responsible attitude to her duties as a taxpayer.
  • The appeal against the penalty of £100 was dismissed.

Links

Land and Buildings Transaction Tax
Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) is a tax on transactions in land situated in Scotland. It replaced Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) on 1 April 2015.

Scottish LBTT Rates
What are the rates for LBTT?

How to appeal a tax penalty
What are the steps in making an appeal? What should your appeal cover? What are the recent cases on this topic?

Grounds for appeal toolkit
What grounds are there to appeal a tax penalty? How can you word a tax appeal? Can you appeal HMRC errors? What is a reasonable excuse?

External link

Shu Fang Yang v Revenue Scotland [2020] FTS/TC/AP/19/0028

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