Uber’s VAT High Court Challenge

One of the UK’s leading tax barristers is launching a High Court challenge against Uber having successfully raised over £100,000 through crowdfunding. Jolyon Maugham…

One of the UK’s leading tax barristers is launching a High Court challenge against Uber having successfully raised over £100,000 through crowdfunding.

Jolyon Maugham QC, who resides at London’s prestigious Devereux Chambers, was driven into action over a 56p VAT receipt he claims Uber failed to provide him with following a short, £6.34 taxi ride he took between his chambers a client’s offices.

He first raised this point in 2015, suggesting that Uber should be paying VAT of 16.67% on its fares, which in 2015 added up to almost £20million in unpaid tax owed to the UK government.

It seems Maugham was not alone in his skepticism of Uber’s tax practices, as within a few months his crowdfunding campaign raised £107,650 from over 3,000 separate donations, including one of £20,000 from an “organization connected with the black cab trade”. Unsurprising, given that it is black cab drivers who have been hit the hardest by Uber and are bound by far stricter tax laws than the ride sharing giant is.

Below is an excerpt from Maugham’s witness statement provided in his court documents:

“If Uber has ‘supplied’ me with a service — as that word is used in a VAT context — then it has a statutory obligation to provide me with a VAT receipt… I believe — and as a QC specialising in tax I have some reasonable professional basis for this belief — that Uber has made a taxable supply of VAT purposes and that I have an entitlement to a VAT invoice”

Uber’s argument – one it is using to defend itself in dozens of cases across the globe – is that does not provide a transport service, but merely connects the drivers with the customers. Maugham is bringing the case via his non-profit organization Good Law Project, and despite fighting talk from Uber’s corner, this is one barrister who shows no signs of backing down.

To see his full witness statement, click here.

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