South African pilot grounded by HMRC


Tax Bill

Another tale of HMRC’s thirst for tax revenue has emerged, this time concerning a South African pilot who was deemed to have ties significant enough to the UK to warrant a hefty bill.

Lyle Dicker Grace was born in South Africa, where he became an international airline pilot. He soon began to work for a British airline and journeyed across the world British Overseas Citizens Passport.

Mr Grace grew accustomed to UK culture as a result of his many trips to Britain, he subsequently became involved with, and later married, a British woman.

Since he worked for a British-based airline, many of Grace’s flights began and finished in England, he also had a home near Gatwick airport for convenience. Still regarding himself as a South African, Mr Dicker Grace believed he had a legitimate case to not pay UK tax, but unfortunately for him HMRC saw things differently.

Following a lengthy court battle, the case was eventually ruled in HMRCs favour. Judge, Hon. Justice Lewison said: “Presence in the United Kingdom in order to fulfil duties under a permanent, or at least indefinite, contract of employment cannot be described as casual or transitory.” He also mentioned the significance of the Gatwick home, noting that it “actually belonged to him and unlike a hotel room, no one else used it”.

This highlights how important it is to have as few ties to the UK as possible when attempting to be a non-resident. Please refer to our Income Tax and Residency section for more information.