Domicile - Tax Tribunal Delves Back into a Century of Family History

Discerning where an individual is domiciled for tax purposes can involve delving far back into his or her family history. In a case on point, a tax tribunal's inquiries began with the birth of a wealthy businessman's father in Austria at the end of the First World War and his subsequent flight from Nazi oppression to England.

In challenging tax assessments in respect of a four-year period, the businessman asserted that he was domiciled in England for none of those years. In determining his appeal, the First-tier Tribunal (FTT) was required to consider not only his own domicile but that of his parents.

His father's domicile of origin was in Austria, where he was born in 1918. He came to England in 1938, having escaped the Nazi persecution of Jews, and served in the British Army. His future wife was born in Ireland and, after they met and married in London in 1954, they established a business and had three children together.

It was the businessman's case that his father was domiciled in Austria throughout his life – he died suddenly, aged 50, in 1968 – and never acquired a domicile of choice in England. As his father's dependant, he was himself born with an Austrian domicile and that continued to be the position after he reached adulthood. His mother, too, had never chosen to abandon her domicile of origin, Ireland.

Ruling on the matter, the FTT found that his father turned his back on Austria when he fled to England, renouncing any connection with the land of his birth. He became deeply settled in London and, having made up his mind to live permanently and indefinitely in England, he acquired a domicile of choice here. Although his mother may have expressed an intention to return to Ireland, any such plan was vague in nature and she too had acquired a domicile of choice in England.

The businessman described himself as a global person who owned property abroad and spent most of his time outside England. In dismissing his appeal, however, the FTT noted that he was born and brought up, and had established a thriving business, in this country. He had never had any ties or attachments to Austria or Ireland and there was compelling evidence that he had, at the relevant time, intended to make his permanent home in England and to end his days here.