On 13 June 2018, the Supreme Court7 allowed HMRC’s appeal in the long-running case regarding the 2007 sale by the MoD of the Chelsea Barracks.

Our previous commentary on the CoA decision, together with a summary of the facts, can be found here.

The Project Blue case is the first to consider in detail the wide-ranging stamp duty land tax (SDLT) anti-avoidance provision (section 75A of Finance Act 2003). Given that the (other) SDLT legislation that is the focus of this decision has long since been amended, it is the Court’s views on section 75A that are attracting much of the attention.

The Court agreed with the earlier decisions in this case that section 75A does not require the taxpayer to have a tax avoidance motive. It was also noted that section 75A had been drafted deliberately widely, presumably with the intention of catching a broad range of transactions.

The uncertainty around section 75A, and when HMRC might choose to invoke it, is not particularly lessened by HMRC’s statement that it will not apply section 75A if it considers that transactions have been taxed appropriately.

The decision can be viewed here.