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Matalan founder Hargeaves loses 20-year court battle over tax bill

The Upper Tier Tribunal ruled against Hargreaves' appeal on February 11. He has three weeks to take the case to the Court of Appeal

Matalan founder John Hargreaves has lost a long-running court battle with HMRC as he attempts to avoid a tax bill that may reach up to £135m. 

He has now been ordered to pay the tax bill after the Upper Tier Tribunal ruled he owes Capital Gains Tax in relation to the £231m disposal of his Matalan shares back in 2000. 

Hargreaves, who founded Matalan in Preston in 1985, has been fighting the tax dispute for almost 20 years. It comes as Hargreaves argues he does not owe HMRC as at the time of the sale he did not consider himself a UK resident and instead was living in Monaco. 

The court ruling said: “Part of Mr Hargreaves’ object in moving to Monaco was to ensure that he was no longer resident in the UK for tax purposes so that he could dispose of shares without becoming liable to capital gains tax.”

However, court documents have revealed that he continued to work in Liverpool in the UK as Matalan’s executive chairman for three days a week and is said to have spent some time in the UK on 152 days of the year in 2000/2001.

A spokesman for Hargreaves told The Telegraph: “Mr Hargreaves is actively considering appealing this latest judgement. It would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage in the process.”

The Upper Tier Tribunal ruled against Hargreaves’ appeal on 11 February. He has three weeks to take the case to the Court of Appeal.

Hargreaves previously made a payment of £35m to HMRC back in 2018.

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