Beta This part of GOV.UK is being rebuilt – find out what this means

HMRC internal manual

Appeals reviews and tribunals guidance

From
HM Revenue & Customs
Updated
, see all updates

Reviews and appeals for indirect taxes: appealing against a decision or assessment: telling the customer of the decision

In many cases we will tell the customer of our decision by sending them a computer generated notice, such as an assessment.

If we do not send a computer generated notice we must tell the customer of our decision by sending them a decision letter.

The customer’s right of appeal is against the decision contained in the notice of decision, that is, the notice of assessment (including accompanying notes), or decision letter as appropriate.

If we send the customer a computer generated notice, it is good practice to also send them a letter of explanation, see ‘Explanation letters’ below.

Decisions letters

The decision letter should usually

  • explain to the customer

    • what they believe the facts to be
    • what the decision is
    • the reasons for their decision
    • the law supporting that decision
    • what will happen if they do not hear from the customer within the time limit
  • tell the customer of their rights if they disagree, including

    • what to do if they have new information
    • their right to a review of the decision (where the decision is reviewable)
    • their right of appeal (where it is an appealable matter)
    • the relevant time limits, see ARTG3120, and
    • where to get further information

The decision maker must include an offer of an HMRC review of the decision in their decision letter, see ARTG4230, when telling the customer of an appealable decision, see ARTG3040.

The decision letter should state clearly who the customer should write to if they wish to accept the review offer. This may be the decision maker or the review team for the relevant business area, but decision makers should check local operational guidance.

Explanation letters {.blue6}

In the explanation letter they should usually explain to the customer

  • what they believe the facts to be
  • what the decision is
  • the reasons for their decision
  • the law supporting that decision
  • the tax they believe to be due, if appropriate
  • what will happen if they do not hear from the customer within the time limit.

This information will help make sure that the customer and their agents understand the decision we have made, the reasons and the legal basis. The decision maker should bear in mind, particularly where the customer is unrepresented that their letter should be clear and easy to understand even if referring to legislation.

If explanation letters are properly worded and the customer subsequently asks for a review of the decision, see ARTG4000 onwards, the review officer should easily be able to identify from the explanation letter

  • the decision they are required to review
  • the facts on which the decision maker relied
  • the decision maker’s reasoning, and
  • the relevant legislation.

Where the decision maker is notifying the customer of a decision following a penalty warning letter, see EM5207b.

Standard paragraphs for use when writing explanation letters are at ARTG15000.

Accountancy issues {.blue6}

Where HMRC intends to allege that the accountancy in a case is wrong, the decision maker should submit the case to the Compliance Accountant for their business unit, for advice before they issue the decision letter