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Clarity is key

Service Area: Criminal and Regulatory

Member: Roger Isaacs

A recent First Tier Tribunal (FTT) case highlights that not only must a case argument contain all of the relevant information but that this information must be presented clearly or the evidence upholding the argument becomes impenetrable.

As any psychiatrist would agree, no two minds think in exactly the same way, but most people think along similar lines; for example, any businessperson knows that the Tax Man expects one to keep some sort of record of income and expenditure.

However, there is a broad spectrum of approaches to this – some will have super-organised filing systems and spreadsheets galore, and some will take a carrier bag full of receipts to their accountant.

For most people, the system they have works for them – or they end up going out of business. That’s all very well until they have to explain what they did many years before in a court of law.

In this case, Mr S was being taxed on the interest from the money that allegedly belonged to his father but that was being held in accounts in his name. Separately, the Tribunal had to decide how much tax was payable in respect of two private pensions, half of which Mr S paid to his ex-wife under an arrangement confirmed by the court.

There was a morass of evidence, much of it conflicting, for the Tribunal to pick its way through, but eventually it arrived at what everyone agreed was a sensible result.

However, the job would have been much easier had Mr S had employed a better method of record-keeping.

Roger Isaacs, Forensic Partner at Milsted Langdon, said: “Keeping a clear record of your finances can not only be extremely beneficial in the management of your company and personal affairs but as this case proves, it could be critical in defending your position in court at a later date.

“Everyone has their own preferred methods for record-keeping which is why the expertise of a forensic accountant can prove vital when unravelling an individual’s finances so that they can be presented before a court.”