Sharpe Pritchard fails in Agassi tax appeal

Sharpe Pritchard has lost the final set of a battle with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) over the amount of tax payable by tennis star Andre Agassi.

Partner Trevor Griffiths, instructing Gray’s Inn Tax Chambers’ Patrick Way, defended Agassi against the Government’s House of Lords appeal from a November 2004 Court of Appeal decision, which ruled in the player’s favour.

HMRC argued that Agassi should pay extra tax on sponsorship contracts with Nike and Head, amounting to £27,500. Its case was upheld by both the Special Commissioners and Mr Justice Lightman before being overturned by the Court of Appeal.

Agassi claimed that, since both himself and the sponsors were based outside the UK, and he was in the country only temporarily to play in tennis tournaments, he was not liable to pay tax on the endorsements.

But his argument was dismissed by four of the Lords, with only Lord Walker of Gestingthorpe dissenting.

Agassi’s tax adviser Julian Hedley of Tenon Media said the decision sets a “dangerous precedent” that would affect many entertainers and sportspeople working in the UK.

HMRC instructed Devereux Chambers’ Timothy Brennan QC.