Taxpayer Saves £10 Million as a Result of Centre of Vital Interest’s Tiebreaker Test

July 14, 2022by Frontier Group

In Jonathan Oppenheimer v HMRC [2022] TC08443, the First Tier Tribunal (FTT) ruled that a non-UK domiciled individual was ‘treaty resident’ in South Africa despite long term residence and business interests in UK. As a result £20m of funds transferred to the UK were not ‘remittances’ and as such not subject to UK tax.

Case Facts

– Oppenheimer (taxpayer) had received £20 million from a family trust; HMRC believed he was a treaty resident within the UK at the time he had received the payments – if so, tax on these payments would have accumulated to over £10 million, however, if he was deemed treaty resident in South Africa, there would be no additional tax due.


– Oppenheimer who had personal and economic connections with both South Africa and the UK.

– Oppenheimer was found to be a treaty resident in South Africa due to the tiebreaker test in the UK/South Africa Double Tax Treaty.

The Appeal was made under Article 4(2) (the ‘tiebreaker’ test) of the double taxation relief, it was found that:-

  1. South Africa was the state of his ‘centre of vital interests’, in which his personal and economic affairs were closer.
  2. Despite the decision on centre of vital interests being sufficient to allow the taxpayer’s appeal, the FTT went on to consider that the appellant had a habitual abode in RSA.

The appeal was accepted on both grounds.

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Frontier Group