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HMRC internal manual

Enquiry Manual

Recalculating Profits: Tax Cases - Johnson v Scott 52TC383

The Inspector had drawn up capital statements which formed the basis of extended time limit assessments. The Commissioners found there had been neglect and determined the assessments broadly in accord with the capital statements which included estimated private expenditure figures.

The taxpayer applied for an order that the case should be remitted to the Commissioners as the Inspector’s figures were conjecture Walton J said

It is quite impossible to see how the Crown, in cases of this kind, could do anything else but attempt to draw inferences. The true facts are known, presumably, if known at all, to one person only - the Appellant himself. If once it is clear that he has not put before the tax authorities the full amount of his income … what can then be done? Of course all estimates are unsatisfactory; of course they will always be open to challenge in points of detail; and of course they may well be under-estimates rather than over-estimates as well. But what the Crown has to do in such a situation is, on the known facts, to make reasonable inferences … the Inspector’s figures … ought to be - fair. The fact that the onus is on the taxpayer to displace the assessment is not intended to give the Crown carte blanche to make wild or extravagant claims. Where an inference, of whatever nature, falls to be made, one invariably speaks of a `fair’ inference. Where, as is the case in this matter, figures have to be inferred, what has to be made is a `fair’ inference as to what such figures may have been. The figures themselves must be fair.