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’, eg 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’, eg 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.
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.
You can apply for a ‘closure notice’ if HMRC opens an enquiry to check your tax return for ‘direct tax’ (eg 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, eg 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
Help you can get
You may want to get help and advice before you appeal.
You can get free advice from:
Read more detailed information about appealing to the tribunal.