Top court explains Tony Chan tax ruling
The Court of Final Appeal on Tuesday explained the reasoning behind its ruling, last week, that denied self-styled fung shui master Tony Chan Chun-chuen’s application to appeal over a HK$340 million tax claim.
“This submission is not supported by the evidence,” Acting Chief Justice Patrick Chan Siu-oi wrote in the judgment. He was referring to Tony Chan’s claim that he had not received any of the 25 tax notices from the Inland Revenue Department that were sent to him care of his the firm Kao Lee & Yip.
The three-judge panel ruled unanimously on Tuesday that Chan’s appeal submission was unjustifiable.
Defence counsel Edward Chan King-sang SC had previously told the court, “The notices were never received by Chan.”
The court dismissed Chan’s claim in a ruling on November 20. That final judgment leaves Chan, who lost a drawn-out court battle for the fortune of late billionaire Nina Wang Kung Yu-sum, liable to repay the HK$340 million, which is mostly profits tax with a small sum of property tax and a penalty for not paying the tax on time. The defendant had claimed he did not learn about the tax notices until late April 2010, when the department filed a claim in District Court.
He filed a notice of objection with the department in June, but it was rejected because it was filed after the deadline, and the department refused to exercise its discretion to extend the 30-day period.
In Chan’s appeal submission, he said that by refusing to extend the deadline, the department wrongly focused on the fact that the assessment notices had reached the law firm’s address. It failed to consider that Chan and the firm might have broken off contact, resulting in Chan failing to receive the notices.
The judge said the department’s refusal to extend the deadline was based not only on the fact that the notices had reached the law firm’s address, but that Chan had given that address to receive notices. He used the address on earlier tax returns, the judgment noted.
The judge wrote that it was not the department’s responsibility to speculate on whether or not Chan’s arrangements for receiving notices actually worked.
“It is the duty of the applicant [Chan] to notify the Inland Revenue Department of any change of address,” he added.
Chan succeeded in the judicial review proceedings against the department’s refusal to extend time, in the Court of First Instance, but the decision was later reversed by the Court of Appeal.
The final judgment leaves Chan, who lost a drawn-out court battle for the fortune of late billionaire Nina Wang Kung Yu-sum, liable to repay the HK$340 million, which is mostly profits tax with a small sum of property tax and a penalty for not paying the tax on time.