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Tax tribunals

If you or your business is under investigation, you are responsible for making the appeal to the Tribunal.

The Tax Chamber of the First-tier Tribunal is independent of HMRC and hears the majority of appeals against HMRC. The onward appeal, on points of law, is to the Upper Tribunal (Tax and Chancery Chamber). It will be up to the Tribunal to decide where and when it will be heard.

The tax tribunals are now much more legally focussed than before.  Planning and gathering of evidence at an early stage is crucial for your highest chance of success.

Therefore, where matters are to proceed to litigation, it is vital for you to consult with a tax team: one that is highly experienced not only in the mechanical process of the tax tribunals, but also in articulating individuals’ cases in front of judges.

Processes and deadlines

You have 30 days to submit a written appeal to HMRC once they have issued their decision.  In most cases, appeals are submitted to the officer who has made the decision: the ‘decision maker’.

You will need to submit specific reasons for your appeal and calculations of the revised liability. The decision maker may accept the reasons for the appeal and settle matters before going any further.

Internal Reviews

If it is not possible to settle the appeal, HMRC can offer an internal review of the issue. The decision maker submits all paperwork to another officer who has not previously been involved in your case: the ‘reviewing officer’. You can supply further evidence in support of your case. The reviewing officer has 45 days to complete their review.

Upon completion of the review, the reviewing officer will either:

  • uphold the original decision
  • vary the original decision
  • settle the appeal

HMRC’s First-tier Tax Tribunal

If the review decision is not accepted, you can appeal to the First-tier Tribunal. This has to be made within 30 days from the review decision.

Once an appeal has been received by the First-tier Tribunal, it is placed in one of four categories:

  • Default Paper
  • Basic
  • Standard
  • Complex

HMRC will notify you about how they have categorised your appeal and outline how the appeal will proceed.

The First-tier Tribunal will set a date for the hearing based on the complexity of the case and could run for several days. You, as the appellant, usually go first in presenting your case. HMRC (the defendant) can cross-examine any witnesses put forward. The judge will make their decision on the day or at a later date within 28 days of the hearing.

Why you should contact us

Our team of former tax inspectors has significant experience of the workings of the tax tribunal. We are experts in obtaining evidence and presenting that evidence to the tribunals.

For more information or help from one of our tax investigation specialists, please contact us using our enquiry form.