As of March 24 2020 hearings at the First Tier Tax Tribunal and Upper Tribunal were forcibly postponed due to the global pandemic. The only caveat being, those that could be held remotely could still be heard, if agreed by all parties. The FTT announced last week that this postponement would last until at least the end of June where they would review their decision.
The FTT have been under pressure to increase the number of remote hearings, however have stated that they are under-resourced and are struggling with the increasing number of delayed hearings.
There are problems with the First Tier Tribunal is not geared up to hear cases which involve numerous witnesses that need to dial inTim Brown – Temple Tax Chambers
The tax policy director at the Chartered Institute of Taxation, John Cullinane, has stated that these delays will prevent both taxpayers and HMRC bringing “frivolous case” to the FTT and ease the overwhelming workload on the FTT.
How many companies may be affected by this delay?
The worry for many companies is that they may not survive the delay in physical hearings. This may be a significant number considering that the FTT had a backlog of 27,820 tax disputes last quarter, which was up from 26,010 in the preceding three months. However, a government spokesperson has attempted to ease the worries of UK businesses and taxpayers by stating:
“It is important that the tax system continues to function so it can fund vital public services like the NHS but HMRC will deal sympathetically with taxpayers who cannot meet their tax obligations on time, or appeal or review HMRC decisions within the usual time limits”
Please see below the announcement made by the FTT:
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