Appeal to the tax tribunal

1. Overview

You can appeal to the First-tier Tribunal (Tax) if you want to challenge some decisions by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), Border Force or the National Crime Agency (NCA).

The tribunal is independent of government and will listen to both sides of the argument before making a decision.

Consider alternative dispute resolution (ADR) before you appeal to the tribunal.

Appeal an HMRC decision

You can appeal some decisions about:

  • ‘direct tax’, for example Income Tax, PAYE tax, Corporation Tax, Capital Gains Tax, National Insurance contributions, Statutory Sick Pay, Statutory Maternity Pay, Inheritance Tax - you must appeal to HMRC first
  • ‘indirect tax’, for example VAT, excise duty, customs duty - you can usually appeal straight to the tribunal

You must appeal within the time limit - it’ll usually be on your decision letter.

There’s a different way to appeal decisions about tax credits and Council Tax.

If you can’t pay

You must usually pay upfront what HMRC says you owe. Make a hardship application if you can’t. Appeal to the tribunal if HMRC won’t let you delay payment.

You don’t have to pay upfront if you’re appealing about a penalty.

Appeal about seized goods

You must ask HMRC or Border Force to take your case to the magistrates’ court (this is known as starting ‘condemnation proceedings’) if you think they shouldn’t have taken (or ‘seized’) your goods.

The tribunal can’t decide whether your goods were seized with good reason.

You may be able to appeal to the tribunal if HMRC or Border Force:

  • refuses to return your seized goods
  • says you need to pay to get your seized goods back
  • sends you an assessment for duty
  • tries to charge you a penalty

You must ask HMRC or Border Force to reconsider their decision before you can appeal.

Closure applications

You can apply for a ‘closure notice’ if HMRC opens an enquiry to check your tax return for ‘direct tax’ (for example Income Tax, Capital Gains Tax or Corporation Tax) and you want it to be closed.

Read the detailed guidance if you need help.

The tribunal will decide when HMRC should close the enquiry.

You can’t apply for a closure notice if your tax return is being checked for ‘indirect tax’.

Appeal an NCA decision

The National Crime Agency (NCA) can check your tax return instead of HMRC in some cases, for example if they suspect you’ve been laundering money.

You can make an appeal if you don’t agree with the decision by writing to the NCA.

National Crime Agency
Units 1 - 6 Citadel Place
Tinworth Street
SE11 5EF

Help you can get

You may want to get help and advice before you appeal.

You can represent yourself or find a lawyer, tax adviser or accountant to help with your appeal.

You can get free advice from:

Read more detailed information about appealing to the tribunal.