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HMRC decisions: What you can do if you disagree

By HMRC

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HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) decisions
- what you can do if you disagree
Disagreeing with an HMRC decision

This factsheet tells you what you can do if you don't agree with one of our tax decisions and about

appealing to the independent tax tribunal. It applies to tax decisions made on or after 1 April 2009.
This factsheet only relates to tax decisions. If your decision relates to:
• tax credits, you should go to www.gov.uk/tax-credits-appeals-complaints
• Child Benefit, you should go to www.gov.uk/social-security-child-support-tribunal
• Child Trust Fund, you should go to www.gov.uk/child-trust-funds/overview
• restoration of seized goods, you should go to www.gov.uk/customs-seizures

Tell us now if you disagree


When we make a decision which you can appeal against, we’ll write and tell you. We’ll also explain how we arrived at the decision and tell you about your rights of appeal. If you don't agree with the decision, write and tell us straightaway, but in any event, within 30 days of the decision. For direct tax matters, this is known as an ‘appeal to HMRC’. You don't have to do this yourself. An accountant or other adviser can do this for you.


If you have more information or you think we’ve missed something please tell us. If you do, we’ll tell you if this information changes our decision or if it doesn’t change our decision, we’ll explain why. We find that most disagreements are resolved by discussing them with us. In some circumstances, you may be able to resolve your disagreement with us using Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). You can find more details about ADR in factsheet CC/FS21, ‘Compliance Checks – Alternative Dispute Resolution’. Go to www.gov.uk and search for ‘CC/FS21’.


What you can do if we can’t reach agreement


If you are not satisfied with the outcome of our discussions, you can:

• have your case reviewed by a different officer from the one who made the decision
• have your case heard by an independent tax tribunal
If you opt to have your case reviewed you’ll still be able to appeal to the tribunal if you disagree with the outcome of that review.

How a review works


You can choose whether or not to have a review. Either:

• we’ll offer you a review (in which case you’ll have 30 days to tell us if you want one)
• if we haven’t offered you a review, you can ask us to carry one out at any stage during our discussion about the dispute

If you tell us that you want a review for indirect tax matters, we’ll complete it within 45 days unless we agree another time with you. For direct tax matters, we’ll complete it within 45 days from the date we confirm our view of the matter that you are appealing unless we agree another time with you.


Reviews are carried out by our staff not previously involved in the matter that you are disputing. You’ll have a chance to provide further information about your case. You can’t ask the tribunal to hear your case until the time limit has expired or we’ve told you the outcome of the review.


Once the review is complete, we’ll write and tell you the outcome, and explain our reasons. (If we can’t complete our review within 45 days, or any time we agreed with you, we’ll write and tell you.) You then have 30 days to ask the tribunal to hear your case.


Appealing to the tribunal


If you don't want a review, or you don't agree with the review conclusion, you can appeal to a tribunal. The tribunal is independent and independently appointed expert tax judges and/or panel members will hear your case. The tribunal is administered by the HM Courts and Tribunals Service (the Tribunal Service), which is part of the Ministry of Justice.

To appeal to the tribunal you must normally write to the Tribunals Service within 30 days of our decision letter. Or, if you’ve asked for a review, within 30 days of our letter telling you of the outcome of our review.
To do this, you can:
• complete a Tribunals Service appeal form available from the Tribunals Service website
• phone the Tribunals Service for a copy
• write to the Tribunals Service

The Tribunals Service will either arrange a hearing to decide your appeal in more straightforward cases, or decide the appeal on the basis of information sent by you and us without the need for a hearing. If you want to appeal to the tribunal, please make sure you attach to your notice of the appeal a copy of the assessment letter, or other notice that you want to appeal against. If you don’t then the tribunal may not accept it.


More information about tribunals and tribunal hearings is available from the Tribunals Service website. See ‘More help’ below.


If you want the tribunal to hear your case and it is a direct tax case, you must have appealed to us first.


Payment of tax during reviews and appeals

If the decision is about a direct tax matter, you can usually ask us to postpone part or all of the tax in dispute until the appeal is settled. An appeal may be resolved by being settled by agreement between you and us or decided by the tribunal. You must then pay the tax due in line with the tribunal’s decision or the agreed settlement. Interest will continue to accrue on any postponed amount and unpaid tax that is found to be due when the appeal is settled or the tribunal has made its decision.


If the decision relates to an indirect tax matter (except for Customs matters), we will not collect the disputed tax while we carry out a review of our decision.


But normally you must pay the disputed tax before the tribunal can hear any appeal. If paying the tax would cause you hardship, you may ask us not to collect it until the tribunal has decided the matter. If you think this applies to you, please tell us. Interest will continue to accrue on any disputed tax and any unpaid tax that is found to be due when the tribunal has made its decision. Once the tribunal has made its decision, you’ll have to pay any tax due in line with the decision, even if there is an appeal against it. We’ll pay you any amounts due in line with the tribunal decision and where appropriate, with interest.


If you appeal against the tribunal’s decision in an indirect tax matter, you may ask us not to collect the tax due if paying it would put you in a position of financial extremity. For example, by resulting in your bankruptcy or liquidation. If there is an appeal against the tribunal’s decision and we think that there is a risk to the revenue, we can ask the Upper Tribunal or court for permission not to pay or repay any amount due to you or to require security before we do so.


More help


For more information about reviews and your appeal rights, go to www.gov.uk/tax-appeals

For more information about the HM Courts and Tribunals Service see:
• First-tier Tribunal, go to www.gov.uk/courts-tribunals/first-tier-tribunal-tax or phone them on 0300 123 1024
• Upper Tribunal, go to www.gov.uk/courts-tribunals/upper-tribunal-tax-and-chancery-chamber or phone them on 020 7612 9730

If you prefer to speak to us, or you want a printed copy of any of our guidance, please phone the helpline phone number on your tax return or letter we have sent you.

Dealing with HMRC if you have additional needs

Go to www.gov.uk/dealing-hmrc-additional-needs or contact our helplines for a range of services such as:

• wheelchair access to nearly all appointment venues
• help with filling in forms
• Text Relay and induction loops which are available for people with hearing difficulties

We can arrange additional support, such as:

• services of an interpreter

• sign language interpretation
• leaflets in Braille, audio and large print

For guidance and forms in Welsh please phone:

• 0300 200 1900 for ‘direct tax’
• 0300 200 3705 for ‘indirect tax’

Putting things right


If you are unhappy with the way we’ve handled your tax affairs, for example, because of delays or mistakes, please tell the person or office you have been dealing with. If they are unable to sort things out to your satisfaction, ask for your case to be referred to the Complaints Manager. For more information, you should go to www.gov.uk and search for ‘Complain to HMRC’ or contact us. You’ll find us in The Phone Book under ‘HM Revenue & Customs’.


In this factsheet ‘direct tax’ includes

• Annual Tax on Enveloped Dwellings (ATED)
• Capital Gains Tax
• Corporation Tax
• Employee related Share Schemes
• Income Tax
• Inheritance Tax
• National Insurance contributions
• Petroleum Revenue Tax
• Stamp Duty Land Tax
• Stamp Duty Reserve Tax
• Statutory payments
• Student Loan repayments
• Tax avoidance schemes (penalty decisions relating to follower notices and accelerated payments)
“Direct tax” in this factsheet also includes tax collected under Pay As You Earn (PAYE) and the Construction Industry Scheme.

In this factsheet ‘indirect tax’ includes

• Aggregates Levy
• Air Passenger Duty
• Alcoholic Liquor duties
• Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme (from October 2015)
• Amusement Machine Licence Duty
• Bingo Duty
• Climate Change Levy
• Counter-Terrorism decisions
• Customs Duty
• Gaming Duty
• General Betting Duty
• Hydrocarbon Oils Duties
• Insurance Premium Tax
• Landfill Tax
• Lottery Duty
• Machine Games Duty
• Money laundering decisions
• Pool Betting Duty
• Remote Gaming Duty
• Tobacco Products Duty
• Value Added Tax (VAT)

Appeals against certain information notices and against penalties for not complying with them follow the direct tax process.


This factsheet doesn’t include decisions about the refusal to restore seized goods or agreement to restore goods, whether subject to a condition or not.