If you disagree with a decision made by HMRC about “direct taxes” including Income Tax, Corporation Tax, Capital Gains Tax and National Insurance contributions, you may be able to challenge it by appealing. It should be noted that a slightly different process applies in the case of “indirect taxes” such as VAT and Customs Duty.
Where “direct taxes” are in dispute, usually your appeal will be settled by reaching an agreement. HMRC will consider your reasons for appealing and may agree to amend their decision. This will be confirmed in writing and you will have 30 days to accept or decline the amendment, before the tax or penalty adjustment is applied.
If there is no agreement you can ask either for a review by HMRC or apply for a hearing by an independent tribunal.
If HMRC cannot agree your appeal, they may offer you a review (or you can ask for a review), by another tax officer who has had no prior involvement in the case. Time limits apply throughout the review process but normally the process is completed within 45 days. If you don’t agree with the outcome of the review, you may then appeal to the First-Tier Tribunal.
Appeals to the First-Tier Tribunal
Appeals to the First-tier Tribunal are against the decisions from government departments and other public bodies. Tribunal judges are legally-qualified and tribunal members are specialist non-legal members of the panel. Tribunals adopt procedures that are less complicated and more informal than those typically associated with the courts.
If you have not been offered a review, you can apply to the tribunal at any time after sending your appeal to HMRC.
However, if you have been offered a review and do not want one, you must apply to the tribunal within 30 days of the review offer. Equally, if you wish to contest a review decision, your application to the tribunal must also be made within 30 days of the review decision.
If you are unhappy with the result of any appeal to the tribunal, you may be able appeal against it if the decision is wrong in law and the tribunal gives permission. The Upper Tribunal usually hears appeals against First-tier Tribunal decisions. If there is no right of appeal, your final option is to apply for a judicial review, which can be very costly.
Using a specialist adviser
Whilst you may apply for review or appeal to a tribunal personally, we recommend that you appoint an accountant to act on your behalf. Taylorcocks has the specialist expertise to represent you and challenge HMRC. We will ensure that your case is fully and accurately presented and any potential interest and penalties are minimised.