Tax Tribunals – An Overview

Gary Green
Gary Green
September 18, 2023

Tax tribunals are held when a taxpayer decides to appeal against a decision that HMRC has made. There is a clear procedure to be followed, and there are four different categories of Tax Tribunal. Here, we take a closer look at the various kinds of tax tribunals and what is involved in each one. 

The Four Categories Of Tax Tribunal 

If you decide that you will appeal an HMRC decision, you must correctly serve a Notice of Appeal to HMRC requesting a review of your case. Once this review has been carried out by HMRC and if you still disagree with their decision, the First-tier Tribunal (Tax) decides which of the four different categories your Tax Tribunal Appeal will fall into. 

These categories are: 

  • A default paper appeal
  • A basic appeal 
  • A standard appeal 
  • A complex appeal 

What Is A Default Paper Tax Tribunal?

This type of appeal is typically dealt with by the First-tier Tribunal. They undertake a detailed and thorough review of the documents that both you and HMRC have provided. In the majority of cases there will be no need for a hearing. The Tax Tribunal generally makes a decision based on the submissions and documents that have been supplied. 

Therefore, it is essential that those documents are constructed correctly and contain the relevant details as well as reference to appropriate legislation and case law. When individuals would prefer to appear in person before the tribunal rather than only having their papers reviewed, they are able to request for the matter to be moved to the Basic level. 

What Is A Basic Tax Tribunal?

This type of appeal is handled at informal hearings at which you, HMRC and your representative will each present your case directly to the Judge. Usually, a decision is received once the hearing comes to an end. Often, the judge reads the details provided before the hearing so they can make a final decision on that day.

What Are Complex And Standard Tax Tribunals?

These types of hearings were quite similar in terms of format, but the primary difference lies in the fact that a complex case will take longer and may often be centred around a detailed point of law. Standard cases, on the other hand, are generally about questions of fact or may be an appeal against a penalty. 

Complex and standard cases are handled at a formal hearing that involves a lot of paperwork. This includes case law and evidence bundles as well as other documentation. Since the issues involved in complex and standard cases are quite detailed, HMRC and you will have more time for preparation of your case.

This includes the agreement on which documents will be presented to the Tribunal, the preparation of evidence bundles and witness statements, and the preparation of a detailed brief to present to the court. Often, standard and complex cases will take at least 6 or 9 months with the hearing itself lasting between a day and several weeks. 

You will be notified by the Tax Tribunal which category your appeal is under, and you will have the opportunity to ask for a reconsideration if you do not agree with the decision.

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