Negotiations broke down yesterday between socialite Grace Lam Yi-lai and tax officials who refused to lift a travel ban unless she paid part of a $7,000 outstanding tax instalment. A three-hour meeting at the Inland Revenue Department ended where it started - with the businesswoman being denied the right to go overseas. Ms Lam, 42, has been subject to the order issued by the District Court in June last year. Department officials lodged the application 12 months after she failed to meet a profits tax demand for an undisclosed amount for the assessment year of 1992-1993. Ms Lam was not aware of the department bid let alone the eventual court order until August last year. She went to the airport only to find that she could not leave Hong Kong. She was subsequently allowed to continue the planned holiday in Japan with her two young sons after paying $5,000 towards the tax bill. 'Whenever I want to fly out, I have to telephone them to beg for permission as if I was a beggar,' Ms Lam said. 'Every time I have to pay them several thousands of dollars.' She asked again yesterday morning but was told that she could not go overseas because she had refused to pay anything this time. Ms Lam, a former director of Po Leung Kuk and Yan Chai Hospital, complained that she did not have the money to clear any of her tax bills unless she could travel overseas. The real estate agency owner will not be able to fly out tomorrow for business talks. An urgent meeting was arranged in the afternoon but failed to reach a compromise. Tax officials present were understood to be adamant that Ms Lam clear some of the $7,000 bill or at least half of it before her request could be considered. Ms Lam promised to return for an unfinished legal matter - her lawsuit against Chau Shek-leung, her former live-in lover and the father of her sons. The two are at odds over who owns two residential flats and a car park, worth about $7 million. The Court of First Instance case is to resume later this year.