The system of tax appeals for direct and indirect taxes was radically overhauled in 2009 with the introduction of the First-tier Tax Tribunal (“FTT”) and the Upper Tribunal (“UT”). The FTT, which is entirely independent from HMRC, hears appeals against all decisions made by HMRC across all taxes. The UT hears appeals against decisions of the FTT. Cases then then go on appeal from the UT to the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of England and Wales.
No one wants to litigate and at Levy & Levy our aim is to keep our clients out of court wherever possible. Sometimes, however, HMRC will not settle with the taxpayer, perhaps because the case involves suspected tax avoidance or there is an important point of principle involved and HMRC wish to test the case in court. It is also important to bear in mind that litigation can be used as a tactical weapon against HMRC to unstick long running investigation cases and bring them to a close as quickly as possible.
A tax appeal can vary greatly, from a simple penalty appeal which will be handled entirely on paper at one end of the scale, to a hearing before the Tribunal involving lasting several weeks at the other. Preparing for a tax appeal requires careful preparation and it is extremely important that the case is presented clearly and well in order to maximise the chances of success.
In dealing with HMRC there is no substitute for experience. Levy & Levy have unrivalled expertise in the area of tax appeals and have been involved in cases all the way up to and including the Supreme Court. We can help our clients to prepare for cases at the FTT, the UT and the Higher Courts and can present cases on our clients’ behalf at the FTT and UT. Tax litigation can, in the right cases, assist the taxpayer to mitigate or even extinguish a tax liability.