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The balance between observance of the law and observance of religion.

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Blackburn and Others v HMRC (2013) - How the law should be interpreted in light of religious beliefs and practices? 

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By: Chantelle Ankers-Burke (Community)

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Blackburn & Ors v HMRC (2013)

Where practising members of the Seventh Day Adventist Church had been refused an exemption from having to submit VAT returns electronically on religious grounds by the HMRC, the first tier tax tribunal stated there must be a balance between the law and religion.

The appellants had taken a strict approach to the limitations on use and access to modern media including computers suggested by the Church. With obligations placed on the tribunal by the Human Rights Act 1998, it was ruled that by refusing to accept paper VAT returns submissions when the avoidance of electronic communications was a integral part of a members observance of their religion such as in the present case, the right to manifest ones religion was infringed contrary to Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights. For these reasons the exemption was granted by the tribunal.