Tony Chan wins battle with taxman
Fung shui master Tony Chan Chun-chuen has finally had his first taste of victory in court when a judge ruled in his favour, quashing the taxman's refusal to give him extra time to file an objection against a HK$330 million tax claim.
Chan, 51, who was charged last week with forging the will on which he based his claim for the billion-dollar fortune of late businesswoman Nina Wang Kung Yu-sum, was twice defeated in the epic probate battle. Last year, the Court of First Instance ruled Chan had used a fake. In February, the Court of Appeal affirmed the decision.
Yesterday, Chan won his judicial review which he launched to challenge a decision by the Inland Revenue Department to refuse Chan's objection to a tax claim arising from Chan's 23 properties and HK$330 million fung shui fee he received from Wang, which he insisted was a gift.
The tax commissioner, Chu Yam-yuen, had to reconsider whether an extension would be granted to Chan, Mr Justice Anselmo Reyes ruled in the Court of First Instance.
According to the document, the tax assessments were mailed in January and February last year to solicitors' firm Kao Lee & Yip because it was the address Chan provided to the department in 2004.
But Chan argued that he did not actually become aware of the assessments until late April last year when the department filed a claim in the District Court because the law firm did not forward the documents to him.
The department provided Chan with copies of the assessments by letter on May 5 last year and on June 4 Chan objected to the tax.
In a letter from June 22 last year, the department rejected Chan's objection because it was filed late. It refused to extend the period for objection - a discretionary power granted by law - because it was not satisfied that the law firm did not receive the assessments.
Reyes noted that although the ordinance provided that a taxpayer had a duty to inform the department of a change of address by writing within a month, it was unreasonable for the Inland Revenue Department to stop there. He wrote that the commissioner should have taken into consideration a July letter written by the firm which said that no one in the law firm could recall having forwarded the assessments to Chan, his brother or his secretary.
'The commissioner, in refusing an extension ... focused on a narrow consideration,' the judge wrote. 'She appears ... to have stopped at a consideration of whether the assessments were received by [the law firm].
'This was insufficient and hence a flawed consideration.'
The judge remitted the matter to the department to reconsider the decision taking into account materials, including the law firm's clarification.
Chan was awarded 90 per cent of the costs arising from the judicial review.
A spokesman for Chan said he welcomed the decision and would strengthen communication with the tax department in the future to avoid misunderstandings.
The department said it would study the ruling.