Tax Tribunals

Tax Tribunals Overview

If you have decided to appeal a decision made by HMRC, once a Notice of Appeal has been properly served to HMRC and if requested a review of the case has been done by HMRC, the First-tier Tribunal (Tax) will decide which of four categories your appeal to the Tax Tribunal falls into.

The relevant categories are:

• Default paper appeal to the Tax Tribunal
• Basic appeal to the Tax Tribunal
• Standard appeal to the Tax Tribunal
• Complex appeal to the Tax Tribunal

Default Paper Tax Tribunal Cases

These appeals to the Tax Tribunal are usually handled by the First-tier Tribunal who will undertake a thorough and detailed review the documents provided by you (or your representative) and HMRC. In most cases, no hearing is required and the Tax Tribunal will make its decision based on the documents and submissions provided and put before the Tax Tribunal. It is therefore or paramount importance that these documents are well constructed and contain all of the relevant information and reference to case law and legislation. If an individual wants to appear before the Tax Tribunal instead of just having a review of the papers by the Tax Tribunal they can request that the matter be moved up a level to the Basic appeal to the Tax Tribunal.

Basic Tax Tribunal Cases

These appeals to the Tax Tribunal are dealt with at an informal hearing, where you, your representative and HMRC will present your cases direct to the Judge at the Tax Tribunal. In most basic appeals, you will receive a decision from the First-tier Tribunal at the end of the hearing. The judge may well have read the information provided before the tax tribunal hearing in order that he can make a decision on the day.

Standard and Complex Tax Tribunal Cases

These hearings take place before the Tax Tribunal are very similar in form to each other, the main difference is that in the complex tax tribunal cases the matter to be dealt with is deemed to be more complex and likely to take more time for the presentation of the cases to the Tax Tribunal and that the more complex cases can often be about detailed points of law. Where as the standard are often about question of fact or appeals against penalties.
The standard and complex Tax Tribunal Cases are dealt with at formal hearings and will involve a significant amount of paperwork including evidence bundles, case law bundles and other documents which need to be referred to as part of the hearing. As the issues in standard and complex tax tribunal cases are more detailed, you (or your advisor) and HMRC will be given more time to prepare your case. This will involve agreeing what documents are to be put before the Tribunal, preparing witness statements and evidence bundles and preparing a detailed brief for presenting before the Tribunal. It is not uncommon for complex or standard tax tribunal cases to take a minimum of 6 to 9 months if not more, between the date of the appeal and the date that the case is heard before the Tax Tribunal.

The hearing before the judge in a tax tribunal case can last anything from a day to weeks depending on the size and the complexity of the matter to be heard before the tax tribunal. The Tax Tribunal will notify you of the category they believe your appeal falls under. You can ask them to reconsider this if you disagree with their decision.