The Adjudicator and The Ombudsman are there to help taxpayers who are unhappy with how the taxman is treating them. They can investigate complaints and award compensation.
The Adjudicator’s role is the ‘impartial referee’ in complaints about HMRC. Although separate from HM Revenue & Customs it does rely on HMRC for staff.
The Adjudicator will normally only get involved after HMRC have had the opportunity to sort out the problem using its internal complaints procedures. But exceptionally they may help you sooner, e.g. if delay could cause you or your business irreparable damage.
The Adjudicator can deal with complaints regarding HMRC administration. This includes excessive delays in processing tax claims, errors made and discourtesy to taxpayers. The Adjudicator does not deal with: technical tax disputes (which can be dealt with by the Tax Tribunal); complaints that have already been investigated by the Parliamentary Ombudsman; or matters relating to a criminal prosecution, during the course of legal proceedings.
The Adjudicator can recommend payment of financial redress including: repayment/waiving of tax; reimbursing professional fees; consolatory payments.
The Ombudsman considers complaints about poor service by government departments, including HM Revenue and Customs. E.g. if there has been: avoidable delay; failure to give appropriate advice; failure to follow proper procedures. The Ombudsman cannot investigate complaints about tax policy or tax legislation. The Ombudsman has wider scope to look at HMRC’s actions than the Adjudicator and can recommend larger compensation than the taxman’s guidelines suggest.
Complaints can go to the Adjudicator directly but complaints to the Ombudsman have to be channelled through an MP. For both, you must have usually have exhausted the taxman’s own complaints procedure first. Itself an exhausting process. NB. The adjudicator cannot look at complaints which the Ombudsman has already dealt with; whereas the Ombudsman will expect complaints to have been through the Adjudicator’s office first.
Pursuing a formal complaint can be a soul destroying task but a very large percentage of complaints are upheld, and it can lead to worthwhile compensation payments.
What does it mean for me?
If you have a dispute with the taxman and you feel they have behaved improperly or unfairly then in some cases it can be worth making a formal complaint. Where worthwhile sums are involved it’s always sensible to engage skilled and experienced tax advisers to prepare your case and fight your corner.
Lynam Tax Enquiry Experts have helped many clients who were aggrieved with how the taxman was dealing with them – and we have frequently been able to bring about a positive outcome; including obtaining significant tax repayments, reimbursement of our fees, and consolatory payments for our clients’ distress.
For expert help: call today for a confidential, discreet discussion with our experienced Tax Dispute Specialists.
Call Paul Lynam now on 0845 643 9997
Or Andrew Nutbrown on 07718 778710