How do I prepare for a Tax Tribunal hearing?

Only a very small number of tax disputes end up at the Tax Tribunal. The majority of tax enquiries and tax investigations end up with a negotiated settlement with HMRC.  Sometimes however it is not possible to reach an agreement with the taxman. If you reach an impasse with the Tax Inspector dealing with your case you can ask for an Internal Statutory Review. This can be an extremely effective way of bringing your case to a conclusion. However, if the HMRC Internal Reviewer also finds against you, then your only alternatives are to concede or to appeal to the independent First Tier Tribunal (a.k.a. the Tax Tribunal).

HMRC use specialist appeal teams to prepare for and appear at the Tax Tribunal hearings. However, if you decide to take the case yourself, or choose to be represented by your normal accountant, then the following tips will be useful to help you in your preparation.

1  Agree with HMRC in advance:

  • A statement of undisputed facts;
  • The documents to be presented;
  • Settlement of any minor points; by prior negotiation.

2  Prepare:

  • Know your case (and HMRC’s) thoroughly;
  • Keep your brief simple – avoiding excessive detail;
  • Identify your 3 or 4 strongest points;
  • Include each of these points at the:
    opening;
    examination; and
    summing up.
  • Prepare cross referenced bundles of evidence;
  • Prepare any witnesses thoroughly;
  • Anticipate counter arguments;
  • Practice your presentation.

3  Presentation

  • Appear calm and in control:  take your time;
  • Stick to your brief;
  • Watch the Tribunal judges, ensure that they understand;
  • Cross-examine HMRC’s witnesses;
  • Generally, only ask witnesses questions where you already know the answer;
  • Summing up:
    keep it simple;
    emphasise your strengths;
    highlight HMRC’s weaknesses.

How can Lynam Tax Dispute Experts help me?

Lynam Tax Dispute Experts
have a wealth of experience in dealing with contentious tax disputes, and with handling the appeals process. HMRC use specialist teams for appeals. You may well be at a major disadvantage if you do not use a specialist for your appeal case. Lynam Tax specialists can help you prepare for the hearing, and also advocate for you in front of the Tribunal.

If you are considering taking your case to appeal then why not talk to Lynam Tax experts today: for an initially free and objective discussion:

Paul Lynam: 0845 643 9997

Andrew Nutbrown: 07718 778710