In this article written for the British Tax Review, Max Schofield reviews News Corp UK & Ireland Ltd v HMRC and whether digital versions of newspapers should attract VAT, while printed versions do not.
Max Schofield is a commercial barrister with particular expertise in indirect tax disputes and VAT.
Max has been instructed to advise and appear on a broad range of indirect tax cases concerning VAT, SDLT, and Remote Gaming Duty, and has a busy practice far beyond his call.
His clients have included social media platforms, television channels, food and drink manufacturers, online casinos, and universities.
His cases have involved judicial review and legitimate expectation, online intermediaries under EU law, VAT penalties, agency, direct and immediate link for VAT recovery, the VAT treatment of various food and drinks products, Multiple Dwellings Relief, and cases of unjust enrichment.
In addition to indirect tax disputes and commercial insolvency work, Max utilises his tax expertise to advise on professional negligence cases concerning accountants, solicitors, and tax advisors.
As a co-editor of the long-running publication “A Handbook of EU VAT Legislation” (Wolters Kluwer), Max keeps his finger on the pulse with regards to changes to VAT law. He is widely published and often invited to give guest lectures at universities and to present papers at symposia.
Max is regularly contacted to provide expert commentary on changes and trends in tax law and policy.
Prior to coming to the Bar, Max was a tax editor for Bloomberg BNA and a paralegal in Macfarlanes LLP’s litigation department and Clyde & Co LLP’s professional negligence department. He accepts instructions for matters in the High Court, County Court, First Tier Tribunal (Tax) and Upper Tribunal (TCC).
Outside of work, Max enjoys spending time in Portugal, supporting the Chicago Bears, and listening to old blues songs.
For further information, please see the 'Expertise' drop-down below.
Fenix International Ltd v Revenue And Customs  UKFTT 499 (TC)
Acting for the taxpayer, an online social media platform, successfully obtaining a reference to the Court of Justice of the European Union on the validity of a European Commission Implementing Regulation.
HMRC v The Core (Swindon) Ltd  UKUT 0301 (TCC)
Acting for the taxpayer, successfully opposing HMRC's appeal – VAT zero-rating – whether FTT erred in reaching its conclusion that Juice Cleanse Programmes should be zero rated as supplies of food rather than standard rated as supplies of beverages – held no – appeal dismissed.
The Core (Swindon) Ltd -v- HMRC  UKFTT 0741 (TC)
Acting for the Appellant - whether or not fruit and vegetable juices sold as meal replacements were beverages and therefore standard rated VAT – held not beverages and therefore zero-rated VAT as food – appeal allowed.
Schofield, M., Matter of multiplication, 12 November 2020, Taxation, LexisNexis, 12
Schofield, M., News Corp UK & Ireland Ltd v HMRC: digital newspapers, (2020), British Tax Review 3, 260
Schofield, M., Landlinx: VAT: HMRC disagreed with its own guidance, 4 August 2020 AccountingWEB.
Max has been invited to be co-editor of the Wolters Kluwer publication “A handbook on EU VAT legislation”.
Schofield, M., VAT: Vegan truffle balls are confectionery, 10 March 2020, AccountingWEB.
Schofield, M., VAT on, VAT off: the Premier Family Martial Arts decision, 3 February 2020, Tax Journal.
Schofield, M., The Assessing Science Authority and proportionality in judicial review, 2019, LexisPSL, LexisNexis.
Schofield, M., Praesto Consulting: VAT on legal services, Tax Journal, 26 April 2019, 24-25.
Cape, J., Schofield, M., VAT and Brexit, (2018), EC Tax Review, 2019/06, 290.
Schofield, M., GCC VAT: Rates Roadmap, in: VAT in the Gulf Region, (2017), MENA Business Law Review, 03/2017, 39-48.
De la Feria, R., Schofield, M., Towards an [Unlawful] Modernized EU VAT Rate Policy, (2017), EC Tax Review 2017/2, 89-96.
Schofield, M., De la Feria, R., Section 123: VAT: representatives and security; Section 124: VAT: joint and several liability of operators of online marketplaces, (2016), 5 British Tax Review, 203-210.
Schofield, M., De la Feria, R., Section 126: VAT: women’s sanitary products, (2016), 5 British Tax Review, 210-217.
Schofield, M., S&I Electronics Plc v HMRC and the state of MTIC VAT Fraud, (2015), 5 British Tax Review, 663-678.
Schofield, M., VAT Reduced Rates? Save Your Energy, (2015), International Tax Blog, Bloomberg BNA.
Schofield, M., Malaysia’s New GST: A Brief Comparison with its Former Sales Tax and Service Tax Regime, (2015), International Tax Blog, Bloomberg BNA.
Schofield, M., Snowballs and Windfalls: VAT reduced rates lead to unpredictable and unreasoned jurisprudence, (2014), Durham European Law Institute Blog.
Add this expertise to your shortlist
Max is a specialist in Indirect Tax with a practice far beyond his call. He has a number of cases at various stages of disputes against HMRC. Unlike many at the pure tax bar, Max appears in court every week and prides himself on his courtroom advocacy. He has also successfully resolved disputes with HMRC before they progress to the Tribunals, including settling multi-million pound assessments in the taxpayer’s favour.
Max has clients in multiple sectors from the food and drinks industry to construction and the media. For example, recently Max was instructed by TV channel S4C in relation to their VAT treatment and s.33 status and by a nationwide producer of healthy food bars. Max has advised many food and drink companies on their VAT liability under Group 1, Schedule 8 of the VAT Act 1994 from start-ups to large international companies.
Max continues to author and present papers at conferences globally and has written on topics as diverse as VAT and Brexit, the European Commission’s legislative competence on VAT rates, the Gulf Cooperation Council’s implementation of a VAT, an analysis of English case law on MTIC carousel fraud, and the taxation of food and cakes.
In addition to pure VAT cases, Max advises on professional negligence claims for and against tax advisors and accountants.
Max regularly volunteers at the Insolvency and Companies Court as counsel for City Law School’s COIN scheme assisting litigants-in-person at the Winding Up Court. In the course of his practice, Max has successful obtained an extension of a company’s administration to allow for recovery of VAT, restored companies to the register, and regularly appears on matters concerning bankruptcy, insolvency, and debt recovery in the Insolvency and Companies Court.
News Corp UK & Ireland Ltd v HMRC: VAT and digital newspapers21st Aug 2020
VAT: HMRC disagreed with its own guidance4th Aug 2020
Max Schofield analyses Landlinx Estates Ltd v HMRC, in which an option agreement over land was broken when the seller backed out and paid the would-be buyer £1.4m. HMRC wanted a slice of the action as VAT on the deal.
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme: Claiming against HMRC17th Apr 2020
3PB’s tax and commercial litigation barrister Max Schofield has issued a briefing, in tandem with employment barrister Daniel Barnett from Outer Temple Chambers, aimed at UK employers who face difficulties with their Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme payments from HRMC.
VAT on; VAT off: Martial Arts and the Education Exemption3rd Feb 2020
Max Schofield analyses Premier Family Martial Arts LLP (“PFMA”) v HMRC in which the First Tier Tribunal was tasked with assessing kickboxing classes and the education exemption for private tuition.
VAT: When you have overpaid your welcome3rd Jun 2019
Max Schofield analyses the recent Court of Appeal decision in National Car Parks Ltd v HMRC  concerning parking ticket overpayments and consideration for VAT purposes.
Praesto Consulting: VAT on legal services9th May 2019
3PB commercial barrister Max Schofield analyses the implications of the Court of Appeal’s judgment on Praesto Consulting v HMRC, in particular, when a company can reclaim the VAT for legal proceedings against its director.
This article was first published in the Tax Journal - www.taxjournal.com/.
“Max has been a pleasure to work with, and I have already instructed him on a second matter, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend him for future work, particularly in relation to VAT liability disputes.” (Daniel Rice, Senior Manager, Grant Thornton)
“Max’s drafting skills are exceptional, […] clear, succinct and legally correct.” (Solicitor)
“Max was instructed very late on in the day. He managed to grasp the main issues extremely well and quickly. He thought “outside of the box” and managed to advise me of the most appropriate (and safest) way of proceeding.” (Solicitor)
- Law (LLB), University of Exeter
- International Trade and Commercial Law (LLM), University of Durham
- Law in a European and Global Context (LLM), Católica Global School of Law, Lisbon
- Visiting Scholar and JD Exchange, Cornell Law School, NY
- Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC), City University, London
- Revenue Bar Association