25 Mar 2018

Claus v HMRC

19 December 2012
ROBERT MAAS reveals a strange tax case


  • Notice of hearing.
  • Consideration for toys.
  • Defining what constitutes money’s worth.
  • Supplies to minors.
  • Problems in accounting for import VAT.

A transcript of what appears to me to be the recent First-tier Tribunal decision in Claus v HMRC has come into my possession (I won’t say how). As it does not appear to have been published elsewhere, I thought that it might interest readers.


In this case HMRC were represented by Mr Scrooge. The taxpayer did not appear and was not represented.

Mr Scrooge explained to me that Mr Claus is reputedly very eccentric. He expects people to communicate with him by writing their message on a piece of paper, folding it and inserting it up a chimney. HMRC did this.

However, they are aware that the Interpretation Act 1998 contains no protection for chimneys. Accordingly, they also sent a copy to Mr Claus by first-class post at his last known address.

To be more precise, Mr Claus has never provided HMRC with an address, but HMRC have a number of employees with children and, from research among these, HMRC have derived a consensus that, if a letter is addressed to “Santa Claus, Greenland”, he seems to receive the communication.

Certainly it appears that, when children seek to contact him in this way mentioning presents that they would appreciate, he normally delivers the item in question.

Mr Scrooge told me that HMRC’s letter certainly was not returned undelivered. I accordingly ...

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