HMRC disputes and appeals

In most cases, disputes are settled by agreement. If this is not possible then HMRC’s decision may be able to be challenged by making an Appeal.

For ‘indirect taxes’, the process is a little different, as the taxpayer may be required to pay the VAT before an Appeal is allowed.

We can help if the trader needs to make an application and seek the permission of the Tribunal to allow the Appeal before the VAT is paid, or if an Appeal needs to be lodged.

However, before the Appeal mechanism is commenced, it may be worthwhile asking HMRC to reconsider the decision.


If HMRC cannot agree your appeal, it may offer you a review (or you can ask for a review), by another tax officer who has had no prior involvement in the case. Time limits apply throughout the review process but normally the process is completed within 45 days. If you don’t agree with the outcome of the review, you may then appeal to the First-Tier Tribunal.

Appeals to the First-Tier Tribunal

Appeals to the First-tier Tribunal are against the decisions from government departments and other public bodies. Tribunal judges are legally-qualified and tribunal members are specialist non-legal members of the panel. Tribunals adopt procedures that are less complicated and more informal than those typically associated with the courts.

If you have not been offered a review, you can apply to the tribunal at any time after sending your appeal to HMRC.

However, if you have been offered a review and do not want one, you must apply to the tribunal within 30 days of the review offer. Equally, if you wish to contest a review decision, your application to the tribunal must also be made within 30 days of the review decision.

If you are unhappy with the result of any appeal to the tribunal, you may be able to appeal against it if the decision is wrong in law and the tribunal gives permission.

The Upper Tribunal usually hears appeals against First-tier Tribunal decisions. If there is no right of appeal, your final option is to apply for a judicial review, which can be very costly.

Whilst you may apply for review or appeal to a tribunal personally, we recommend that you appoint a tax adviser to act on your behalf. The Tax-Investigation team of specialists has the expertise to represent you and challenge HMRC. We will ensure that your case is fully and accurately presented and any potential interest and penalties are minimised.

To find out how we can help you, please contact us.