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HMRC internal manual

Insurance Premium Tax

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Reviews, appeals and tribunals: purpose and outline of this section

IPT has a small trader population, therefore the number of appeals to the Tribunal Service about IPT is likely to be small. It is not, in such a situation, cost-effective for the Department to provide detailed guidance on all aspects of Tribunal Appeal procedures specifically for IPT. Therefore, in addition to the brief outline in the next few sections, officers can also refer to the Appeals, Reviews and Tribunals guidance (ARTG), substituting IPT for VAT as appropriate.

Revised procedure from 1 April 2009

From 1 April 2009 the Tribunal service was reorganised into a unified structure.. In summary, the new Tribunal structure consists of a First-tier Tribunal and an Upper Tribunal. IPT appeals will normally be heard by the First-tier Tribunal. The Upper Tribunal will hear appeals against decisions made by the First-tier Tribunal (currently heard by the High Court). Appeals from the Upper Tribunal will be heard by the Court of Appeal or the Court of Sessions in Scotland.

At the same time, the way in which we deal with appeals internally also changed. A formal review process was introduced to many direct and indirect taxes, for the first time. While the review process already exists in IPT, under the new procedure it became optional. This means that an insurer or anyone affected by an appealable decision involving IPT will be able to appeal directly to the Tribunal without having to go through the review process beforehand. Once they receive a decision letter, tax payers will have 30 days in which to decide whether to ask for a review or to appeal directly to the Tribunal. The time limits for conducting reviews and notifying decisions remain unchanged. Sections 59 and 60 of the FA 1994 have been amended to reflect the changes. While the review process becomes optional, it is still preferable that we first try and deal with any disputes without recourse to the Tribunal wherever possible. New guidance has been published - Appeals, Reviews and Tribunals guidance (ARTG). It is important that you refer to and follow that guidance for issues from April 2009.

Objectives of reviews and appeals

The objective of the review and appeal arrangement is to provide an efficient and effective process for challenging Departmental decisions that is in line with the Taxpayer’s Charter and Open Government initiatives.

As far as possible the Departmental review must be independent from the original decision making process, so that the insurer (or other person who has asked for the review) has confidence in the fairness of the system. See IPT09460 for details about the role of the reviewing officer. The reviewing officer must therefore be impartial and independent. For this reason it will not be appropriate in most cases for the review to be undertaken by line managers.

A further objective is to resolve most disputes at, or before, the review stage. A case should only reach the Tribunal where a genuine disagreement remains between the Department and the insurer. The review stage should weed out cases where, possibly in the light of new or additional information, the original decision is subsequently considered to be incorrect or poorly founded or where, for exceptional reasons, the issue is one that the Department does not wish to contest. It is relatively quick and inexpensive for us to resolve a case at the review stage - an appeal is rarely either.