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How to appeal

Tax appeals

You may find this section helpful when you disagree with a decision HMRC have made.

This guide explains the basics of the tax appeal system. We are concerned with direct tax only, by which we mean things like income tax and National Insurance contributions; the definition of direct tax also includes other things that you might not expect, like student loan repayments. HMRC provide a list of direct taxes covered by their direct tax appeal process.

Another option that may be available to you when you disagree with a decision HMRC have made is ‘Alternative Dispute Resolution’. This can be used alongside the appeal process.

This section does not cover the following:

  • HMRC are hassling you for information you know you ought to give them or HMRC have discovered something you had not told them. You will have to sort that out with HMRC. You can find more information on enquiries in the self-employment section of this website.
  • If your dispute is about tax credits.
  • HMRC are demanding money that you owe, but you cannot afford to pay.

What is the appeal process?

If you disagree with HMRC and you have a right of appeal, you can make an appeal in writing to HMRC. You must normally make an appeal within 30 days of HMRC’s notice of their decision.

HMRC will consider your appeal. They will either agree with you and amend their decision or confirm their original decision. They will confirm their position in writing. You will have 30 days from the new decision to appeal, if you still do not agree with HMRC.

If you cannot agree your position with HMRC, HMRC may offer you a review. You can request a review at any time. A review is an internal process, carried out by another HMRC officer, not previously involved in your case.

If you still cannot agree your position with HMRC after a review, or do not want a review, you can appeal online to the First-tier Tax Tribunal. The tribunal will make a decision about your case. If you disagree with the tribunal’s decision, you may be able to make a further appeal. If you take your case further, you may have to pay HMRC’s costs as well as your own, so you should think carefully before doing so.

Can I make an appeal?

You can make an appeal if you have the right to appeal against an HMRC decision. You may have a right of appeal where HMRC, for example:

  • are looking into your tax affairs and demanding excessive amounts of information or taking too long without bringing their enquiries to an end;
  • have altered your self assessment after an enquiry because they think you got it wrong;
  • have made an assessment of tax on you or are disallowing a claim to a relief;
  • have refused you a sub-contractor's certificate;
  • have issued a coding notice which you think is wrong;
  • are demanding a penalty or surcharge unfairly.

When HMRC write to you with a decision, they should also tell you whether or not you have a right of appeal. If you do not know whether you have a right of appeal, ask HMRC in writing.

Posted in: When things go wrong