R (on the application of Khan) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (Dishonesty, tax return, paragraph 322(5))

The Tribunal stated:

(i) Where there has been a significant difference between the income claimed in a previous application for leave to remain and the income declared to HMRC, the Secretary of State is entitled to draw an inference that the Applicant has been deceitful or dishonest and therefore he should be refused ILR within paragraph 322(5) of the Immigration Rules.  Such an inference could be expected where there is no plausible explanation for the discrepancy.

(ii) Where an Applicant has presented evidence to show that, despite the prima facie inference, he was not in fact dishonest but only careless, then the Secretary of State must decide whether the explanation and evidence is sufficient, in her view, to displace the prima facie inference of deceit/dishonesty.

(iii) In approaching that fact-finding task, the Secretary of State should remind herself that, although the standard of proof is the “balance of probability”, a finding that a person has been deceitful and dishonest in relation to his tax affairs with the consequence that he is denied settlement in this country is a very serious finding with serious consequences.

(iv) For an Applicant simply to blame his or her accountant for an “error” in relation to the historical tax return will not be the end of the matter, given that the accountant will or should have asked the tax payer to confirm that the return was accurate and to have signed the tax return. Furthermore the Applicant will have known of his or her earnings and will have expected to pay tax thereon.  If the Applicant does not take steps within a reasonable time to remedy the situation, the Secretary of State may be entitled to conclude that this failure justifies a conclusion that there has been deceit or dishonesty.

(v) When considering whether or not the Applicant is dishonest or merely careless the Secretary of State should consider the following matters, inter alia, as well as the extent to which they are evidenced (as opposed to asserted):

i. Whether the explanation for the error by the accountant is plausible;

ii. Whether the documentation which can be assumed to exist (for example, correspondence between the Applicant and his accountant at the time of the tax return) has been disclosed or there is a plausible explanation for why it is missing;

iii. Why the Applicant did not realise that an error had been made because his liability to pay tax was less than he should have expected;

iv. Whether, at any stage, the Applicant has taken steps to remedy the situation and, if so, when those steps were taken and the explanation for any significant delay.

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