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HMRC internal manual

Appeals reviews and tribunals guidance

Introduction: reviews of HMRC decisions

Customers are entitled, by law, to a review by HMRC of its appealable tax decisions, that is, decisions (other than restoration decisions) where any appeal would be to the Tax Chamber of the tribunal, see ARTG1010.

So where customers disagree with HMRC’s decision or assessment and want a review, HMRC must carry out a review of its decision, see ARTG4030.

This review will be carried out by a review officer, who is, in most cases, outside the direct line management chain of the decision maker and was not involved in making the decision.

In direct tax, see ARTG1060, either HMRC may offer a review, see ARTG4220, or the customer can ask for one, see ARTG4290.

In indirect tax, see ARTG1070, HMRC must

  • offer a review at the time the decision is notified, see ARTG4230, or
  • if the customer has a right of appeal but is not the person to whom the decision was issued, the customer may request a review, see ARTG4290.

But any customer with a right of appeal may send an appeal to the tribunal whether or not HMRC has carried out a review; see ARTG2410 and ARTG3100, unless the appeal is against a decision about the restoration of seized goods, see ARTG6210.

The aim of the review is to provide an additional opportunity to resolve the dispute without the need for a tribunal hearing.

Since review officers have not been involved in the decision, they provide a fresh viewpoint. Reviews help make sure both that the decision has been properly made and that, in HMRC’s view, it is legally correct and one which we would defend at tribunal.

HMRC has a Quality Assurance process to make sure that the reviews

  • are consistent
  • are carried out to the required standard, and
  • provide feedback to review officers and to business areas so that guidance and training for decision makers is improved.

Reviews are time-limited and customers have the right to make representations to the review officer to make sure that their point of view is understood, see ARTG4220 and ARTG4230.

When the review is finished the review officer will write to the customer to tell them the outcome of the review, see ARTG4820.

Once the review officer has told the customer of their conclusions, the customer has a further period within which they can notify an appeal to the tribunal. The conclusion of the review is HMRC’s official position and the decision maker must take the appropriate action to implement it.

Where a Simple Assessment has been made there is no right to an appeal unless the customer has raised a query about the assessment under s31AA TMA1970 and has been given a final response to that query.