Millionaire Aaron Banks fights tax authorities at Court of Appeals over £ 160,000 bill for his donations to Ukip
Millionaire, Brexit-backed businessman Arron Banks has claimed that charging £ 160,000 in estate tax on his donations to Ukip discriminates against the Court of Appeals.
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) previously assessed Mr Banks, 54 – one of the self-proclaimed ‘Bad Boys of Brexit’ – as owed just over £ 160,000 from nearly £ 1 million in donations to Ukip between October 2014 and March 2015.
Donations to political parties that elected two MPs, or one MP and a total of 150,000 votes, in the last general election are exempt from inheritance tax.
While Ukip received 919,471 votes in the UK in the 2010 general election, the party did not return a single Member of Parliament to the House of Commons, prompting the HMRC to charge Mr Banks £ 162,945.34.
Mr. Banks has previously challenged the decision in the First Line Tribunal (FTT) and Higher Tribunal, arguing that the law exempting political donations from inheritance tax violates his human rights and EU law.
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) previously assessed Mr Banks (pictured with Nigel Farage) – one of the self-proclaimed ‘Bad Boys of Brexit’ – as just over £ 160,000 owed on nearly £ 1 million in donations to Ukip between October 2014 and March 2015
He alleged that the provisions of the Inheritance Tax Act were unlawfully discriminatory under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), as well as in violation of his – and Ukip’s – right to freedom of expression. and freedom of assembly under the ECHR.
After both tribunals rejected his objection, Mr. Banks took his case to the Court of Appeal on Wednesday.
Mr. Banks’s attorney, Jason Coppel QC, said: “First, we say that the appellant has been discriminated against based on his political opinion as a supporter of Ukip, that is, direct discrimination.
‘Secondly, we say that as a supporter of Ukip, the appellant was indirectly discriminated against on the basis of political views.
“And third, we say that appellant has been discriminated against based on Ukip’s status as a party without an elected member of parliament.”
Mr Coppel said the law encourages donations to some parties, while discouraging donations to others.
Mr. Banks (left, with Donald Trump and Nigel Farage) has previously challenged the decision in the First Line Tribunal (FTT) and Higher Tribunal, arguing that the law exempting political donations from inheritance tax violates his human rights and EU law
“Common sense is there is clearly a difference in treatment … Mr. Banks was taxed for giving to Ukip where he wouldn’t have been taxed if he had donated to the Conservative Party,” he said.
Who is Arron Banks – the man who ‘bought Brexit’?
The multi-millionaire (pictured) has donated millions to Ukip and supported Mr Farage’s Leave.EU group in 2016
Arron Banks has been called ‘the man who bought Brexit’ because of the way he financed Nigel Farage’s campaign to leave the EU.
The multi-millionaire has donated millions to Ukip and in 2016 supported Mr Farage’s Leave.EU group.
He was photographed with Donald Trump when President Nigel Farage met in New York, just days after his shocking US election victory.
Mr. Banks made his fortune with Bristol-based insurance broker Brightside, which he founded. He then founded another company, GoSkippy.
He is married to the Russian Ekaterina Paderina and has five children.
Originally a humble Tory donor, he defected to Ukip in 2014 in desperation over David Cameron’s stance on Europe.
William Hague made the mistake of describing Mr Banks as ‘someone we’ve never heard of’ after his death – prompting him to increase his donation to Ukip from £ 100,000 to £ 1 million.
The court heard that the law is intended to allow donations to political parties while limiting abuse, but Mr. Coppel argued that this had the impact of indirect discrimination against Ukip supporters.
“It was a provision that was initially neutral, but had a particularly adverse effect on Ukip supporters who were taxed while others were not taxed,” he said.
The Inheritance Tax Act allows a tax-free allowance of £ 325,000, meaning that only donations above this amount would be subject to the tax.
Mr Coppel said: “The fact that in practice this provision will not work to the disadvantage of many Ukip supporters because not many of them have the resources that Mr Banks has is of little importance.
“All the conservative supporters in that pool, all the Labor supporters in that pool, all the Liberal Democrat supporters in that pool are still benefiting from it.”
He added: “This was an interference with freedom of expression … a charge of £ 160,000 imposed on an expression of political opinion.”
HMRC disputes the claim, arguing that the tribunals were right in their decisions.
Sir James Eadie QC, on behalf of HMRC, said the alleged discrimination is not based on a personal characteristic and that Mr. Banks would be eligible for tax exemption if he donated to the Green Party instead of Ukip.
He said in written remarks: ‘That’s not because the legislation necessarily treats the Green Party differently from Ukip, but because the Green Party happened to achieve electoral success in 2010 general elections, while Ukip’s success in general elections was not. until 2015.
‘That is a political coincidence; it does not show that the measure is discriminatory. ‘
He added: ‘It is not the case of the appellant that he chose to support parties without MPs, for example because of an interest in the plurality of democracy.
He was more in favor of a party that happened to have no MP at the time of the donations in question. ‘
The case, which is being heard by Sir Julian Flaux, Lord Justice Henderson and Lady Justice Nicola Davies, will close on Thursday.