Appeals, Tax Disputes & Tax Tribunals
When a taxpayer and HMRC cannot agree on an issue there are various appeals processes available to resolve matters: including the Tax Tribunal, Internal Review and Alternative Dispute Resolution.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Where the relationship with the investigating tax inspector has broken down, then the ADR route can be useful to move things forward. A so-called independent HMRC facilitator is used to try and restore the communication process, and accelerate the settlement of the case.
In addition to the ADR there is a further HMRC led mechanism whereby another tax inspector, not previously involved with the case, can consider matters. The so-called Statutory, or Internal Review, can be a very useful method of resolving outstanding points, particularly where you feel that the tax investigator you are dealing with is being unfair or unreasonable.
As a next step, or alternatively, to those methods, there is the formal appeals process to the Independent First Tier Tribunal (aka the Tax Tribunal). The Tax Tribunal service is entirely independent of HMRC. Its impartial judges hear evidence from both sides - usually in a formal courtroom style. The decisions are legally binding. The formal nature of the hearings mean that Tribunal cases are usually and best handled by specialists. HMRC officials frequently try to scare off taxpayers from going to the Tribunal - suggesting the process is mysterious and intimidating. It needn’t be, if you are properly represented. The impartial Tax Tribunal judges are scrupulously fair; and find in favour of the taxpayer more often than not. Also, HMRC have a track record of backing down at the last minute - when they see a taxpayer’s representative is experienced, organised and determined.
These systems give excellent opportunities for the well represented taxpayer to accelerate the pace of any Tax Enquiry or dispute; overcome HMRC intransigence; and to have their case heard by an impartial, objective, decision maker.
What does it mean for me?
If you have a tax dispute or long running tax enquiry there are now 3 methods for bringing matters to a conclusion. The ADR is useful where you feel you are banging your head against a brick wall, or speaking a different language to the inspector. The Internal Review will bring a fresh pair of eyes to the situation, where you feel the tax officer is getting it wrong. The Tribunal Appeals process will bring an independent and objective judgment.
Success at any stage depends on the quality of the fact finding, presentation skills and technical knowledge of your tax adviser - and their ability as an advocate. Where worthwhile sums are at stake it’s always worth engaging skilled and experienced specialist professionals to prepare your case.
Lynam Tax Enquiry Experts have prepared for many Tribunal hearings and the process has usually meant HMRC conceding before the formal meeting. We have also presented cases successfully at formal contentious hearings, and we are currently assisting a number of clients through the Alternative Dispute Resolution; Internal Review; and Tribunal processes. We will fight your corner tenaciously, but also with the subtlety and skill honed from 60 years’ real experience.
If you need advice and help in a contentious tax dispute call:
Paul Lynam : 0845 643 9997 or
Andrew Nutbrown : 0771 877 8710
or email firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about the Tax Tribunals and Internal Reviews see our news articles:
New Appeals Process in Tax disputes: the Tax Tribunals.
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