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Your dealings with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) will normally be routine. But there may be occasions when you disagree with a decision made by HMRC. If this happens, you may be able to challenge the decision.
You may be able to resolve the matter by sending further information to the officer who sent you the decision you disagree with.
If not you can ask for either of the following:
This guide explains what you can do if you don't agree with an 'indirect tax' decision (please see the section below listing indirect taxes). It explains how and when you can ask for an HMRC review and how you can appeal to the tribunal.
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The process described below applies to what HMRC calls 'indirect taxes'. You should follow the 'indirect tax' process if you disagree with a decision relating to any of the following:
However the 'direct tax' process applies if the decision you disagree with relates to:
If the decision you don't agree with relates to a tax not in this list, you might want to check the process for what HMRC call 'direct taxes'.
When HMRC tells you about a decision that you can appeal against they will also offer you an opportunity to have the decision reviewed by an officer who wasn't previously involved in the original decision.
You will need to reply to this offer in writing - and send it to the address given in the decision letter - within 30 days of HMRC's decision.
There are also some circumstances in which you can ask for a review of a decision that was not sent to you but which directly affects what you have to pay to HMRC. Where this applies, you need to ask for a review within 30 days of finding out about the decision.
HMRC will need the following information from you:
If you do not write to HMRC accepting the offer until after the 30-day period has passed, HMRC will still carry out a review if you have a reasonable excuse why your acceptance was late.
You will need to give HMRC an explanation of why your acceptance was sent in after the 30-day period and show that you replied as soon as you could.
If HMRC does not think your explanation is reasonable they will write and tell you why. HMRC's decision about whether or not to conduct a review requested late is final. However, you may still appeal to the tribunal against the decision that HMRC have refused to review late. You have 30 days from the date of the refusal in which to do this, if you wish.
For more information about appealing to the tribunal, see the section below: 'Appealing to the First-tier Tribunal'.
HMRC will appoint an officer, who has not previously been involved with the decision you disagree with, to carry out a review of the decision. You can put your case in writing to the review officer.
The review will usually be completed within 45 days. In some instances it may take longer and HMRC will get in touch and ask you to agree a longer period. If HMRC does not write to you telling you the outcome of the review within the review period you can appeal to the tribunal.
When the review has been completed the review officer will write and tell you their decision.
If HMRC does not complete their review within the 45 days (or longer agreed period) they will usually ask you whether you will agree to an extension so that they can finish the review. If no extension is agreed, they will write to you explaining that the review is upheld. You will then have 30 days to send your appeal to the tribunal, if you wish to do so.
If you disagree with the decision reached by the review officer you can appeal to the tribunal. You need to do this within 30 days of the review conclusion letter (or the letter telling you that the review conclusion is treated as upholding the original decision). The tribunal can alter the decision if it thinks it is wrong. For more information about appealing to the tribunal see the section below: 'Appealing to the tribunal'.
If you don't reply to the letter telling you the decision reached by the review officer, or appeal to the tribunal, within 30 days, HMRC will assume that you agree with them. They will then amend the decision in line with the outcome of the review and, where relevant, will amend the amount of tax or penalty you or your business has to pay.
If you want a tribunal to consider your appeal or application you must send it to the tribunal within 30 days of:
You can do this either by writing to the tribunal or completing the tribunal appeal form.
However you can't ask for a review by HMRC if you have already appealed to the tribunal, or appeal to the tribunal if you have already asked for a review by HMRC.
You can ask for your appeal to be considered by the tribunal without having a review first (except for certain decisions which are linked to a restoration decision). For more information about 'linked decision' see HMRC's guidance 'What to do if disagree with a Customs decision about the return of seized goods'.
The tribunal will not usually hear your appeal unless the tax due as a result of the decision you disagree with has been paid.
But if you believe that paying the amount you wish to appeal against would cause you hardship you can ask HMRC not to collect the payment due until the appeal has been considered by the tribunal. You will need to:
HMRC will write and tell you whether or not they agree with delaying the payment. If they do not, they will explain that you can also ask the tribunal and tell you how to do this.
You don't have to deal with HMRC personally. An accountant or other adviser can act on your behalf.
If at any time, you have further information that you think might affect HMRC's decision you should send it to the officer who sent you the decision letter. You can continue to discuss your affairs with this officer even if you have asked for a review or appealed to the tribunal.