Anastasia Nourescu, Senior Associate in the Tax Litigation and Resolution department, spoke to Tax Journal about the recent growth in tax disputes at Stewarts, the importance of networking and an eye-catching VAT-related case.

Anastasia has worked on a wide range of high-profile and high-value tax and public law disputes before the Tax Tribunals, High Court, Court of Appeal, Supreme Court and the Court of Justice of the European Union. Her practice spans a broad range of contentious issues across direct and indirect tax, as well as EU law and public law. She draws on her previous experience of working for HMRC to design the most effective dispute resolution strategy and achieve the best result for her clients.


What’s keeping you busy at work?

I have a broad tax disputes practice, which invariably keeps me busy. At the moment, I am preparing for a landfill tax appeal before the First-tier Tribunal, as well as a hearing that is coming up later this year on the deductibility of goodwill and group relief. I have a couple of other cases ramping up, including a complex enquiry raising issues around CGT, transfer of assets abroad, transactions in securities and domicile. It helps that tax disputes is a growth area for Stewarts, which means they are really investing in it and I have ample support to pursue all my ideas.


If you could make one change to tax, what would it be?

Many aspects of tax administration could do with some streamlining, but one in particular baffles me. Having started my career in indirect tax, the appeal process for direct tax decisions still seems bizarre to me. Once in receipt of a decision, the taxpayer may appeal it to HMRC, which issues a ‘view of the matter letter’ or refers it directly to the First-tier Tribunal (but the taxpayer must also notify HMRC of the appeal either before or at the same time as the submission of the appeal).

If a view of the matter letter is issued, the taxpayer can appeal it to the FTT or request a review of the view of the matter letter and then appeal the review conclusion letter to the tribunal. This seems unnecessarily complicated, and there is scope for inexperienced taxpayers and advisers to get lost in the process and miss a deadline. Could we not have a similar process to the one for indirect taxes: decision, review, appeal to the tribunal?


What do you know now that you wish you’d known at the start of your career?

I wish I had appreciated the importance of establishing a network earlier on. If you start making connections and building relationships when you are junior, your network will grow organically as you become more senior. The benefits are endless: your contacts can provide career advice and support, act as a sounding board for technical questions, help you establish a client base and you might even make a few friends along the way.


Has a recent tax case caught your eye?

I was interested to read the decision in Prudential Assurance Company Ltd [2023] UKUT 54 (TCC), where the Upper Tribunal held that the time of supply rules for continuous services trump the VAT grouping rules. In that case, the time of supply of investment management services provided by a member of the VAT group to another was held to be the time of payment, by which point the entities were no longer members of the same VAT group. In a way, it is good that the tribunal clarified the position, but it also means the time of supply of a continuous service cannot be ascertained until the time of payment, leading to uncertainty for VAT groups. I look forward to seeing what the higher courts make of this question.


What should we look out for this year?

There are interesting times ahead for capital allowances. HMRC has had a couple of recent wins in the Court of Appeal (Urenco Chemplants Ltd [2022] EWCA Civ 1587 and London Luton BPRA Property Fund LLP [2023] EWCA Civ 362) and a loss before the Supreme Court (SSE Generation Ltd [2023] UKSC 17). We already know that HMRC has a mandate to substantially increase collections and is paying close attention to tax reliefs; we can see this especially from the flurry of activity on R&D relief and the recent nudge letter campaign on the super-deduction. It remains to be seen if HMRC continues to take a narrow view of expenditure covered by capital allowances and if the courts agree with its approach. I think we will see an increasing number of disputes in this area.


And finally, you might not know this about me but…

I enjoy horse riding in my spare time. I am very much an amateur, but being outdoors among horses really takes my mind off tax.



You can find further information regarding our expertise, experience and team on our Tax Litigation and Resolution page. If you require assistance from our team, please contact us.



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