Charity appeals against £9m corporation tax bill

Sum relates to period before the housing association Helena Partnerships registered with the Charity Commission

HM Revenue and Customs
HM Revenue and Customs

A housing association is appealing against a decision that it must pay a £9m corporation tax bill that it incurred before it registered as a charity.

Helena Partnerships, a housing association based in St Helens, Merseyside, was set up by St Helens Council in 2002. The council's housing stock was transferred to the association in a deal that was structured to avoid VAT.

HM Revenue and Customs wants it to pay corporation tax on rental income received before it registered with the Charity Commission in 2004.

The charity appealed against the decision in the tax tribunal last year, arguing that its work had been charitable during the period in question. The tribunal ruled that its work was not exclusively charitable and the bill should be paid.

The charity's appeal to the Upper Tribunal will be heard in the Royal Courts of Justice on 1 and 2 February. The case could set a precedent by determining whether organisations can claim retrospectively to have been operating as charities.

It is thought to be the first time the finance and tax tribunal has heard a charity case. Alison McKenna, the principal judge of the charity tribunal, will be one of the judges.

Details of the case can be found on the Upper Tribunal website. Helena Partnerships and HMRC were unable to comment.

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