Late Appeals to the Tax Tribunal

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) have actively sought to clamp down on tax evasion or avoidance and increasingly more individuals and businesses are subject to HMRC tax penalties. It is vital that any taxpayer (individuals and businesses) deal with tax issues as soon as they occur to prevent their appeal from being time-barred and to minimise the accrual of penalty fees. 

Our London Tax Solicitors and Barristers have vast experience of tax laws and first hand commercial, litigation and advocacy experience . We have a proven track record of successfully contesting disputed tax assessments and penalties with HMRC. The tax authorities have lost many cases that are appealed through negotiation, internal review or through the Tax Tribunal.

Our team of expert Tax Solicitors and Barristers provide our clients with advice in relation to:

  • appealing against a tax assessment;
  • appealing against a tax penalty;
  • submitting a tax appeal even after the 30-day time limit;
  • negotiating with HMRC;
  • navigating the HMRC internal review process; and
  • advising on statutory tax appeals within the Tax Tribunal.

Applications for Permission to Appeal out of time

The First Tier Tribunal have the judicial discretion to permit tax appeals made out of time to proceed. The time limit to bring a VAT appeal to the FTT in 30 days and a late appeal will only be permitted in exceptional circumstances.

When does the 30-day period to submit a tax appeal start to run?

The time limit for bringing a VAT appeal to the FTT commences from the date of the document notifying the appellant of the decision, or where someone else is the appellant, the date on which that person becomes aware of the tax decision (VATA 1994, s. 83G(1)(a)).  

In what circumstances will the First-tier Tax Tribunal (FTT) allow a late appeal?

A late appeal can be made if the FTT grant permission (VATA 1994, s. 83G(6)). However, case law suggests that permission will only be granted in exceptional circumstances and permission will not be granted unless the FTT is satisfied on balance that it should be allowed using a discretionary balancing exercise (Wan (t/a Wan’s Chinese Takeaway) [1997] BVC 2,364).

Factors the FTT take into account in allowing a late appeal:

1.      The length of the delay in making an appeal

If the delay is very short, then the FTT may consider the breach to be neither “serious nor significant”; however, this is not a carte blanche to allow all short delays to be granted, the following two stages will be considered by the FTT.

If the delay is too long, then the FTT may dismiss any application for an extension of time for appeal. For example the FTT dismissed an appeal made 3 years after the expiry of the 30-day limit (Meah (t/a Raj Dharbar Takeaway) [2014] TC 03829).   

2.      What was the reason for the delay?

The FTT will assess whether there is a reasonable excuse for the delay, for example, where the appellant was not aware that there were grounds for an appeal or before legal advice has been sought.  

3. Was the delay caused by the actions of HMRC?

Many appellants assume that by entering into correspondence with HMRC over the disputed tax liability stops the clock running and submits reasons why the debt is disputed. This does not constitute an appeal and does not stop the clock running. If HMRC fail to respond to the taxpayer or fail to notify the taxpayer that correspondence does not constitute an appeal, may be grounds the FTT takes into account in granting permission for an out of time appeal.

4.      Once the taxpayer is aware of an appeal, did the appeal progress expeditiously?

It is important to progress an out of time appeal as soon as you become aware of it. Every day that is delayed will need to be explained to the FTT. Therefore it is imperative to seek legal advice as soon as possible.

5.      Will there be prejudice to the taxpayer or to HMRC is allowed or refused?

The FTT will take into account all circumstances of the case and will assess whether a late appeal will prejudice HMRC in any way.

6.      Are there public interests considerations if an out of time appeal is allowed or refused?

The FTT might consider a delay of years might be consideration to denying an appeal as it is not in the public interest to allow litigation over a long period of time. The FTT might not allow permission if it affects other proceedings.  Another consideration is whether the length of time has affected the credibility of the evidence available.

Case Law Examples on Late Appeals

  • HMRC decision letter was “on a balance of probabilities” not received by the taxpayers’ accountants and an out of time appeal was allowed (North Berwick Golf Club [2015] TC 04289).
  • Where it was found that a financial adviser had misled a taxpayer client.
  • A late appeal was not permitted when the appeal was sought around 8 years later (Balston [2015] TC 046662).
  • A taxpayer was unsuccessful in the attempt to appeal late when his bankruptcy was annulled (Farrington [2015] TC 04661).

Expert London HMRC Tax Appeal Lawyers

If you need HMRC Tax Disputes advice, we are available to aid you at every stage of the HMRC appeals process. Members of our legal team have first-hand experience and working knowledge of the internal workings of HMRC. We can provide you with the very best representation in negotiations, throughout the HMRC internal review process and in front of the Tax Tribunal. Our team specialises in successfully challenging HMRC decisions, submitting out of time appeals, and will assist you in every aspect including developing a strategy.

We are experts in adeptly presenting evidence and employing bespoke arguments combining the facts of your case, previous cases and current legislation to ensure your appeal is a successful one. We provide urgent advice and representation to clients from our unique expert team of established tax and duties specialist solicitors and barristers with a proven track record of delivering authoritative results. Just call us on 0207 1830 529, or email contact@lexlaw.co.uk.