Good Law Project forces HMRC to collect £1.5bn in VAT from Uber

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I share this from the Good Law Project, just published:

Way back in April 2017, we announced we were going to take on HMRC’s failure to assess Uber to VAT which corroded public trust, not only in HMRC, but in politics more generally.

And it’s been quite the scrap…

There have been lows – like us spending the money we raised in the crowdfunder trying to get a protective costs order and failing.

And there have been highs – like us persuading the High Court late last year that a fairly spineless HMRC was allowed to do what the legislation plainly allowed it to do and tell us it had (at last) assessed Uber.

There have been further lows – as last week when the Court of Appeal refused us permission to bring our judicial review against HMRC.

But ultimately we triumphed. Uber’s US accounts now confirm that HMRC has assessed Uber to VAT on fares – both prospectively and retrospectively.

And that’s all we ever wanted.

It’s been a long, bumpy (and expensive) ride – if you’ll allow me the metaphor – but we have reached our destination. I am so proud that together we have forced HMRC, belatedly, to act – Uber has now been asked to pay the £1.5bn of tax they owe the public purse.

We couldn’t have done it without your support. So thank you.

I’d also like to thank the lawyers – George Peretz QC, Jack Anderson, Hui Ling McCarthy QC, Christopher Knight, David Greene, Vikram Sachdeva QC, and Alex Rook – who helped out, most for even less than the smell of an oily rag, along the way.

I well remember having a pint or two with Jo Maugham to discuss this way back in 2016 or early 2017. The question then that remains the relevant one now is why did it take an angry lawyer to force HMRC to fact and collect tax that was very obviously owing? Why didn't they want to collect £1.5 billion?

What was it about Uber that made them steer clear?

I'd love to know the answer.

But I'm also delighted that this is going to happen now.