Who’s the client?

A leading tax lawyer is planning to challenge Uber in the courts over what he alleges could be a £20m-a-year black hole in its tax payments in the UK.

Jolyon Maugham QC said he was preparing to submit a case to the high court that would argue the US taxi app company should be paying VAT on fares, which he estimated would total almost £20m for 2015.

Lawyers tend not to work for free after all.

Think he might have a hole in his reasoning too. He’s supporting the claim with he idea that drivers have worker status, thus it’s Uber providing the transportation. But UK law distinguishes between worker and employed status…..

Still, the way I read this is as with The Spud. Let’s do some agitating in order to gain ermine. The QC deciding to avoid, in my opinion of course, the hard work and low pay of being a judge along the way.

9 comments on “Who’s the client?

  1. One suspects that his clients are Champerty and Maintenance.

    Used to be an offense those two. A cause for disbarment.

  2. “Lawyers tend not to work for free after all.”

    Well he didn’t want to cough his own cash to challenge Brexit through the Irish courts as that was crowd funded. Interesting to see who is behind it. I’d bet some vested interest (London Black Cabs or similar).

    Perhaps the headline should be “Soapy Joe, trying to steal more from Uber users”, or even better, “Soapy Joe, trying to steal from the less-than-minimum wage working Uber drivers”. Interesting to see where the incidence ends up.

  3. “Bertram said: “The reason why we’re appealing the tribunal’s preliminary decision is because the vast majority of drivers tell us they want to remain self-employed.””

    Just like every other private hire driver. This hateed of über really is a bizarre obsession.

  4. Yes. VAT rules do not follow employment law.

    But it’s messy and don’t think the principles were settled even before the rise of the international ‘agency’ platform. I expect HMRC would rather like to have some new law drafted that loads compliance/reporting/payment obligations onto the likes of Uber. Even if it yielded no gain in revenue, they don’t want the ‘gig economy’ meaning everyone does a tax return.

  5. Yep, would make sense. Much less likely to have evasion if the company is handling the tax transaction, I’d guess, as well as being cheaper for HMRC.

    Moons ago, I remember getting threatening debt letters from the government as an employer because one of the guys was behind on a couple of his accounts with them. It was easier to get the money that way, even if it was none of my business. Threaten him, he procrastinates; threaten me, I deduct from his salary and pay up immediately.

  6. I like the fact he has his own category now – well named – an oleaginous piece of garbage. Not quite as bad as Murphy but not far off…. Odious…..

  7. Uber is a bog standard taxi radio control centre. The taxi drivers are bog standard private hire taxi drivers.

    The drivers have to get involved in VAT if their turnover is over (or approaching) the threshold.

    As a radio control centre, Uber are an agent, supplying booking and accounting services to their drivers. So, as an agent they need to be involved in VAT (if turnover, etc) and be charging VAT to their taxi drivers (who naturally pass it on to their customers).

    Alternatively, Uber are a fleet employer, so Uber need to be VAT registered and charging VAT. And paying NI and EmpTax.

    Alternatively, Uber are a taxi association, so Uber need to be VAT registered and charging VAT.

    Uber are NOT a tech company.

  8. Uber is brilliant, and a fantastic achievement.

    It’s all a bit new though, and the law is unclear. Fine, we pay the state mega-bucks to get on and clear things up.

    Uber and its drivers want to offer us rides, and we want to take them up on it. The government needs to focus on this, not creating work for lawyers.

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