Can a commercial company have “beliefs”? Exmoor Coast Boat Cruises Ltd v Revenue & Customs

In Exmoor Coast Boat Cruises Ltd v Revenue & Customs [2014] UKFTT 1103 (TC) the company appealed against decisions of HMRC refusing its application to file its VAT returns on paper. It was represented by Mr Oxenham, its sole director and sole shareholder.

The background

Initially, filing VAT returns online was made compulsory for all businesses with a turnover of over £100,000 and any newly-registered business with effect from 1 April 2010. Subsequently, it was extended to all businesses without exception with effect from 1 April 2012. The technical VAT details of this appeal need not concern us: the interest for students of law and religion is that Mr Oxenham claimed exemption from the obligation to file on-line on grounds of religious belief, relying on Regulation 25A(6)(a) Value Added Tax Regulations 1995/2518 (subsequently inserted by the Value Added Tax Regulations 1995), which exempts “a practising member of a religious society or order whose beliefs are incompatible with the use of electronic communications”. Continue reading