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Tax Tribunals Explained

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Our primary goal is to allay any feelings of concern or anxiety you may be experiencing at this stressful time. We will give you a clear, objective appraisal of your tax position and the options available to you.

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Want to learn more about HMRC Disclosure Facilities before arranging your free consultation? There's lots of useful information on this page covering:

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Still unsure if you need professional tax advice? Find out why it is so important to speak with a tax expert before engaging HMRC. Click here to learn more.

Tax Tribunals

What is a tax tribunal?

If you have decided to appeal a decision made by HMRC, once a Notice of Appeal has been properly served to HMRC and if requested a review of the case has been done by HMRC, the First-tier Tribunal (Tax) will decide which of four categories your appeal to the Tax Tribunal falls into.

The relevant categories are:

  • Default paper appeal to the Tax Tribunal
  • Basic appeal to the Tax Tribunal
  • Standard appeal to the Tax Tribunal
  • Complex appeal to the Tax Tribunal

Default Paper Tax Tribunal Cases

These appeals to the Tax Tribunal are usually handled by the First-tier Tribunal who will undertake a thorough and detailed review the documents provided by you (or your representative) and HMRC. In most cases, no hearing is required and the Tax Tribunal will make its decision based on the documents and submissions provided and put before the Tax Tribunal. It is therefore or paramount importance that these documents are well constructed and contain all of the relevant information and reference to case law and legislation. If an individual wants to appear before the Tax Tribunal instead of just having a review of the papers by the Tax Tribunal they can request that the matter be moved up a level to the Basic appeal to the Tax Tribunal.

Basic Tax Tribunal Cases

These appeals to the Tax Tribunal are dealt with at an informal hearing, where you, your representative and HMRC will present your cases direct to the Judge at the Tax Tribunal. In most basic appeals, you will receive a decision from the First-tier Tribunal at the end of the hearing. The judge may well have read the information provided before the tax tribunal hearing in order that he can make a decision on the day.

Standard and Complex Tax Tribunal Cases

These hearings take place before the Tax Tribunal are very similar in form to each other, the main difference is that in the complex tax tribunal cases the matter to be dealt with is deemed to be more complex and likely to take more time for the presentation of the cases to the Tax Tribunal and that the more complex cases can often be about detailed points of law. Where as the standard are often about question of fact or appeals against penalties.

The standard and complex Tax Tribunal Cases are dealt with at formal hearings and will involve a significant amount of paperwork including evidence bundles, case law bundles and other documents which need to be referred to as part of the hearing. As the issues in standard and complex tax tribunal cases are more detailed, you (or your advisor) and HMRC will be given more time to prepare your case. This will involve agreeing what documents are to be put before the Tribunal, preparing witness statements and evidence bundles and preparing a detailed brief for presenting before the Tribunal. It is not uncommon for complex or standard tax tribunal cases to take a minimum of 6 to 9 months if not more, between the date of the appeal and the date that the case is heard before the Tax Tribunal.

The hearing before the judge in a tax tribunal case can last anything from a day to weeks depending on the size and the complexity of the matter to be heard before the tax tribunal. The Tax Tribunal will notify you of the category they believe your appeal falls under. You can ask them to reconsider this if you disagree with their decision.

Tax Tribunal Specialists

Gilbert Tax Will deal with HMRC appeals and Tax Tribunals for you.

At Gilbert Tax, we have over eighty years experience in finding closure for clients dealing with HMRC disputes and appeals. We are skilled in negotiating with HMRC and may be able to bring the matter to a close without it going to the Tax Tribunal. If it does we have significant experience of taking appeals to the Tax Tribunals and also have access if needed to Tax Lawyers and Tax Barristers. This expert team can make all of the difference to the outcome of a HMRC dispute.

For a free private discussion of your tax matters and how we can help solve these, please call Gilbert Tax on 0800 734 3333 or email us at

What to expect from us...

  • Non-judgemental. We are here to help, not to judge

  • Rigorously defend your position within the scope of the law

  • Take control of the HMRC investigation

  • Efficient process to achieve the closure of your investigation

Client Story
Long Running Dispute

After a 4 year Inland Revenue investigation where no progress had been made HMRC had concerns that a Tax Fraud had occurred...

Contact Our Team

Get in touch with us for confidential and no-obligation tax advice.

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Here to help, not to judge
Tax Investigation Specialist
Scott Gilbert, Partner and Tax Investigation Specialist

"We understand that people sometimes make mistakes in their dealings with HMRC and that HMRC make mistakes in dealing with taxpayers. Many people do not know how to deal with HMRC or who to turn to for help resolve the tax dispute.

Our firm of tax advisors specialise in resolving people's problems with HMRC. We have extensive expertise in dealing with all forms of tax investigations and tax disputes as well as with taking matters to the Tax Tribunal where agreement cannot be reached.

We deal both directly with the individual who is under enquiry and also work with many firms of accountants supporting them in dealing with HMRC disputes and advising them on how to handle HRMC to get the best result.

The fact is that proper management of HMRC is the best way of reducing the tax, interest and penalty as well as the time taken in resolving any tax dispute.

Our expert team are none judgemental and rigorously defend your position within the scope and parameter of the law. We take control and manage the process to minimise the interruptions that any form of tax investigation causes to an individual's life and business."