Property mogul avoids a huge tax bill, and still enjoys Shabbat

November 28, 2013
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Sarah and James Glyn (Photo: John Rifkin)

Sarah and James Glyn (Photo: John Rifkin)

A retired property mogul almost lost out on a £5.5 million tax break — because of his wife’s “great cooking”.

James Glyn insisted he was resident in Monaco when he received a £29 million dividend from selling off his family property portfolio.

But HM Revenue and Customs were adamant that his heart remained in north-west London, where his wife, Sarah, as well as being a charity chief, was a legend among her family and friends because of her sumptuous home cooking.

The tax authorities cited the couple’s regular returns to London for Jewish festivals and Shabbat dinners, when Mrs Glyn would cook for her two grown-up children and the couple’s large circle of friends, as evidence that they had never really left, and were thus fully subject to UK taxes.

Now, however, a tax tribunal has ruled that Mr Glyn, 64, had made his home in the tax-haven after more than 30 years managing the family’s £60 million property empire’.

Mr Glyn found himself at the helm of the family’s business at the age of 21 when his father died. Working with his brother, Stuart, he guided the Milverton Group Limited to substantial success.

Mr and Mrs Glyn made their home in a townhouse in the exclusive Circus Road in St John’s Wood, bringing up their children, Toby and Georgina, there — and to which they returned permanently in May 2010 after Georgina gave birth to their grandchild.

But, in 2005, Mr Glyn had had enough and he wanted to retire, said tribunal judge, Howard Nowlan. His brother sold off the family’s property holdings and, in May 2005, Mr Glyn received a £29 million dividend.

Revenue and Customs said £5.5 million in income tax was due on that dividend, but Mr Glyn insisted he and his wife had moved to Monaco in April 2005 and did not owe a penny.

The tax authorities said the couple’s fondness for their London home and continued close contact with their children and friends proved they had never lost their UK residence.

Judge Nowlan said that although Mr Glyn returned to Britain 22 times in the 2005-06 tax year, he had kept well below the 90-day limit for overseas residency.

Sarah Glyn had reluctantly given up her role as chairman of the Women’s International Zionist Organisation and said she’d had “mixed feelings” about following her husband to Monaco.

The judge said the Glyns had made “a distinct break” with Britain and that Friday-night dinners were “ingrained” in Jewish family life. “It seems odd to suppose that sustaining Mr Glyn’s claim to have become non-UK resident should require that the… Jewish tradition should be abandoned or artificially restricted”. Mr Glyn had “unquestionably acquired a habitual abode in Monaco”.

Last updated: 12:52pm, November 28 2013