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Jaggers v. Ellis (Chancery Division) 11 November 1997

Income tax. Schedule D. Farming / woodlands.

The taxpayer grew Christmas trees. On a nine-acre site, coniferous trees were planted: mainly Norway Spruce, but also two other species not normally grown in woodlands. The trees were young and more closely spaced than they would have been if grown for forestry purposes. They were specially pruned to give a Christmas tree shape. The Special Commissioner found as a fact that the land was not “woodlands”.

The taxpayer was assessed under Schedule D on the deemed trade under s.53(3) ICTA 1988. The taxpayer argued that the land she occupied was “woodlands” within the meaning of s.53(4) ICTA 1988, in which case she was exempted from the provisions of s.53(3).

Held: The Special Commissioner’s finding of fact was not irrational. The word “woodlands” fell to be interpreted according to its normal English usage, and the Special Commissioner (who had viewed the site) could not be said to have been irrational in deciding that the site was not “woodlands”, even though it was a site on which trees were grown.

Aparna Nathan appeared for the taxpayer