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The Finance & Tax Tribunal.

Mr R G Morfee v HMRC – TC/03766

I like this decision, it shows the Tribunal procedure at its best – a forum in which the ordinary person on the underground can air a genuine grievance and be listened too.

Mr Morfee was converting his barn, a listed building, into living accommodation. His roofing supplier charged VAT on the basis that the works to the roof were repair rather than permitted alterations to a listed building (zero-rated). Mr Morfee queried the treatment of that and the supply of under floor heating kit with HMRC. HMRC made a “decision” in relation to the heating kit and informed him he could appeal (they later retracted that at hearing); however, they gave only general guidance in relation to the roof but left the door open for further information to be submitted.

Rather than submit further information and having been informed he could appeal in relation to the heating kit, Mr Morfee lodged an appeal in relation to the roof and the heating kit.

HMRC applied to strike out both – on the basis that there had been no appealable decision in respect of either the roof or the heating kit.

The application was granted – however, the Tribunal (Rachel Short) directed that Mr Morfee have time in which to provide further information to HMRC such that a full (i.e. appealable) decision could be made. She said at paras 19 – 22:

19. The Tribunal views this as a case where matters of procedure have been allowed to obscure the real point at issue, being the correct VAT treatment of the supply of 10 roofing works provided to Mr Morfee. The Tribunal has a wide discretion to exercise its powers to override any procedural matters in the interest of justice and in this instance we have concluded that is it not in either party’s interest to indulge in lengthy debate about whether an appealable decision is required or existed here.

20. The Tribunal recognises that there is some doubt whether this appeal has been 15 properly brought under s 83 and whether HMRC’s letter of 11 December 2012 constitutes a decision against which Mr Morfee has a right of appeal. The Tribunal also recognises Mr Morfee’s concern that he should have some means of appealing against VAT which he believes has been wrongly charged to him.

21. On behalf of HMRC Mr Priest made it clear that if Mr Morfee had responded to 20 their letter of 11 December 2012 with more detailed information about the roofing works and the reason why he believed they should be zero-rated, HMRC would have responded with a letter which would have been a “decision” against which Mr Morfee could have appealed.

22. In order to bring this issue to an effective conclusion with least cost to all parties 25 it is decided that the existing appeal be struck out under Rule 8(2) of the Tribunal Rules on that basis that there is no appealable decision in respect of which the Tribunal has jurisdiction, but subject to the following Directions, which were issued with the summary decision on 31 March 2014; 

Mr Morfee’s application for costs was, properly, refused – HMRC had not acted unreasonably in making the application to strike out, R10 Tribunal Rules not engaged.

You can access a copy of the decision here.