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HMRC internal manual

Enquiry Manual

Working the Enquiry: Joint applications to the tribunal during an enquiry

The taxpayer and HMRC may make a joint application to the tribunal to decide any question arising in connection with the subject matter of an enquiry into a taxpayer’s return at any time during the enquiry.

More than one joint application can be made during the enquiry.

When is a joint application to the tribunal appropriate?

Most cases aren’t suitable for a joint application to the tribunal. But even if a joint application isn’t appropriate, you can still consider whether Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) will help you and the taxpayer resolve the dispute. See the ADR web pages for guidance about ADR.

Most questions that are the subject of joint applications to the tribunal will be complex and important and will usually involve specialist offices working enquiry cases themselves or policy areas advising on cases.

If either you or the taxpayer identify an issue as suitable for a joint application you should consider all the implications of the application, including

  • when you are likely to be in a position to close your enquiry or whether you can do so immediately,
  • whether you want to keep the enquiry open,
  • whether a partial closure notice is more appropriate and can now be issued,
  • the delay in being able to make an amendment and bring any additional tax into charge,
  • other issues likely to arise that would be suitable to put into the same application, and
  • whether the issue is important or complex enough to need deciding by the tribunal.

Making a joint application to the tribunal

Applications must be made jointly by HMRC and the taxpayer, and we can refuse to join in on an application that the taxpayer wants to make. Similarly, the taxpayer could refuse to join in on an application that we want to make. The taxpayer has no right of appeal against our refusal, nor do we have a right of appeal against theirs.

If the taxpayer has asked you to join in a joint application and you do not think that a joint application is appropriate, write to them explaining your reasons. Remind the taxpayer that they will have the right to appeal against any amendment made to their return at the end of your enquiry. Bear in mind that a refusal to join in on an application may result in the taxpayer applying to the tribunal for a direction requiring you to issue a partial or final closure notice within a specified period.

See ARTG7555 for more information on making joint applications.