Wednesday 17 January 2018

Court rules O’Brien does not have to pay tax bill following Esat sale

Denis O'Brien
Denis O'Brien
Paul Melia

Paul Melia

BUSINESSMAN Denis O'Brien will not have to pay a tax bill of almost €57m following the sale of Esat Digifone more than a decade ago.

The High Court has ruled that a Revenue Appeals Commissioner was correct to decide that his permanent home was in Portugal at the time of the sale, meaning he was not liable for Capital Gains Tax (CGT) on the €285m he received for his stake in the mobile phone company.  

Ms Justice Mary Laffoy said she was upholding the decision of the appeals commissioner. 

Ms Justice Laffoy said:  "Having regard to the evidence given and the facts found by the appeals commissioner, he was correct in holding that 6 raglan road was not a permanent home available to the appellant for the tax year 2000/2001 for the purposes of Article 4.2 of the Ireland / Portugal double taxation convention."

It had decided that Mr O'Brien's permanent home in 2000/2001, the time of the sale, was Quinta de Lago, Almancil, Portugal and not Ireland which meant he was not liable for CGT when he sold 5.7 million shares he owned in Esat Digifone.

The Inspector of Taxes was unhappy with the decision, and the Appeals Commissioner agreed to refer the matter to the High Court to determine whether he was wrong in law.

Today, Ms Justice Laffoy found the appeals commissioner was correct in his interpretation of the Taxes Consolidation Act, and she was upholding the decision.

Mr O'Brien was not in court.

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