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HMRC internal manual

Appeals reviews and tribunals guidance

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HM Revenue & Customs
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Reviews and appeals overview: Process for direct taxes

General

Generally, if a customer disagrees with a direct tax decision they have 30 days from the date they received notice of the decision to tell us in writing that they are appealing against the decision. If they also send a postponement application, we should consider postponing any disputed tax, see ARTG2500 onwards.

Once we have received an appeal, we may have further discussions with the customer to try to resolve the dispute. Usually these discussions will be with the decision maker. As a result of the discussions agreement may be reached and the appeal settled. Most disputes are resolved in this way.

Customer’s rights

Alternatively or in addition, once they have sent an appeal to HMRC the customer may either

  • have a review (whether by accepting our offer or by requesting a review), see ARTG4000 onwards, or
  • notify the appeal to the tribunal, see ARTG2400 onwards.

They may notify the appeal to the tribunal at any time after sending it to HMRC, unless

  • they have accepted an offer of a review and the review has not yet ended, see ARTG4220, or
  • they have asked for a review and the decision maker has written to them with our view of the matter and the review has not yet ended, see ARTG4290.

In this process there is only one appeal, potentially in two stages. In the first stage , the customer send their appeal to us. It is during that stage that a review may take place. The second stage is where, if necessary, the customer sends the appeal to the tribunal. A review cannot take place after the appeal has been sent to the tribunal.

HMRC offer of a review

If discussions with the customer or their representative do not resolve the matter or if discussions are not appropriate or possible, the decision maker may write to the customer explaining our position and offering a review. HMRC cannot refer the appeal to the tribunal; the offer of a review is the route by which we progress the appeal to a conclusion. The decision maker must write directly to the customer when offering a review even in cases where we have been dealing directly with their agent. We should also send a copy of the letter to the agent, where appropriate.

If we offer a review, the customer has 30 days from the date shown on the review offer letter to accept it or to notify the appeal to the tribunal. If the customer does not either

  • notify the appeal to the tribunal, or
  • accept the review offer

within that period the appeal is treated as settled by agreement (s 49C TMA 1970). But see ARTG2240 if there is a late appeal or ARTG4300 if there is a late review acceptance.

Customer’s right to require a review

The customer can also ask for a review of the decision at any time after sending an appeal to HMRC, see ARTG4290.

The decision maker must provide the customer with their view of the matter. (Our view may have changed, at least in part, since the decision was originally made as a result of discussion and negotiation with the customer.) The decision maker must send the letter giving their current view of the matter directly to the customer, even in cases where we have been corresponding directly with the agent. We should also send a copy to the agent where appropriate. The review then takes that view as its starting point.

Conduct of review

If the customer accepts the offer of review, or we have provided our view of the matter in a case where the customer has required a review, HMRC must carry out a review within 45 days unless a different period is agreed (the “review period”).

Once they have accepted a review offer (or asked for a review and been sent the review letter), the customer may only notify the appeal to the tribunal after either:

  • the date shown on a conclusion of review letter, see ARTG4820, or
  • the 45 day (or other agreed) review period has expired. In cases where we have not concluded the review in time, see ARTG4850.

The review conclusion letter must set out our conclusions on the review and our reasoning. It must also set out the customer’s options following the review. The review conclusion letter must be sent directly to the customer, with a copy to the agent, where appropriate.

Options following review

If they do not agree with the outcome of the review the customer will have 30 days from the date of the conclusion of review letter to notify the appeal to the tribunal.

If the review officer does not write to the customer with the review conclusion within the review period, the review officer must write and tell the customer as soon as possible after it has ended that the decision under review is treated as upheld.

The customer may notify the appeal to the tribunal at any time after the end of the review period provided it is within 30 days of the date of the review officer’s letter telling the customer the conclusion that the review is treated as having reached, see ARTG2420.

If the customer does not send their appeal to the tribunal, or the tribunal does not receive ther appeal within 30 days of the date on the review conclusion letter, the appeal is treated as settled by agreement (Section 49F TMA 1970). But see ARTG8240 if there is a late notification to the tribunal.