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Appeal to the First Tier Tax Tribunal

This guide explains HMRC First Tier Tribunal rules for making an appeal to the tax tribunal. Find out what happens at First-tier tax tribunal hearings and what to do if you lose the case.


First-tier tribunal rules apply to appeals and challenges on the decisions made by:

  • The law enforcement command at Border Force
  • HM Revenue and Customs or the Welsh Revenue Authority (WRA)
  • The government department at the National Crime Agency (NCA)

An appeal to the tax tribunal will be independent of the government in the United Kingdom.

Tribunals listen to both sides of a disagreement before they reach a final decision.

Note: You might also consider using an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) before making a tax tribunal appeal.

Appealing an HMRC Decision

An appeal to the First-tier Tribunal gets heard in the ‘Tax Chamber’. The types of decisions these appeals apply to include:

Note: You must make any appeal to the First Tier Tax Tribunal within the specified time limit (as stated on the decision letter). A different system deals with appeals on decisions about Council Tax and Tax Credits.

What if You Cannot Pay?

As a rule you must pay what HMRC says you owe upfront. If you cannot pay, the correct procedure is for you to make a hardship application. You can still appeal to the tribunal (see below). This applies even if HM Revenue and Customs refuse your request to delay the payment.

Note: There is no need to pay upfront for appeals that relate to a tax penalty.

Appeal against Seized Goods

What happens if you consider your goods got taken (seized) without justification? In this case you must ask HMRC or UK Border Force to take the case to a magistrates’ court.

How to make an Appeal to the First Tier Tax Tribunal in the United KingdomThis procedure is otherwise referred to as ‘starting condemnation proceedings‘.

As a rule you can appeal to the tribunal in circumstances where HMRC or Border Force:

  • Refuse to return your seized goods.
  • Say you need to pay to get your seized goods back.
  • Send you an assessment for duty.
  • Try to charge you a penalty.

Note: The first step is to ask HMRC or Border Force to reconsider their decision before you can begin an appeal. The responsibility of the tribunal is not to decide or determine whether goods got seized with or without good reason.

HMRC Closure Notice Application

In some cases you can apply for a ‘closure notice‘ if want it closed. It applies to enquiries opened by HMRC to check tax returns for ‘direct taxation’.

The tribunal decides when HMRC must close the enquiry. But, closure notices are not allowed on tax returns that are getting checked for ‘indirect tax’.

Appeal a National Crime Agency Decision

In some cases, it could be the National Crime Agency (NCA) who checks your tax return and not HMRC. This is most likely if they suspect that you have been laundering money.

Note: You can appeal an NCA decision if you do not agree with the decision by writing to them ‘directly’.

National Crime Agency
Units 1 – 6 Citadel Place
Tinworth Street
London SE11 5EF

Appeal a WRA Decision

You can make an appeal about some decisions on Land Transaction Tax, Landfill Disposals Tax, or to close an enquiry into a tax return.

As a rule, you would need to pay what WRA says you owe upfront. But, you can request to delay the payment until you get a decision on your appeal.

Note: You must appeal within the time limit (stated on the decision letter). You can also ask WRA to change a decision before making an appeal.

Free Help Before Appealing to the Tax Tribunal

You can choose to represent yourself. But, it may be better to find a tax adviser, an accountant, or a lawyer to help when you appeal. You can also get free advice from:

Note: HMCTS guide T242 explains when you can appeal an HMRC decision on tax and how to bring an appeal to the Tax Chamber of the First-tier Tribunal.

How to Appeal to the Tax Tribunal

Most people find it easier to make a tax tribunal appeal online. The same digital service applies for applications to close an enquiry. If you are appealing a tax tribunal online you will need:

  1. Either a scan or a photograph of the original notice (or review conclusion letter).
  2. The reasons for making the appeal. The judge will access the reasons to help him understand your side of the disagreement.

Note: Use ‘authorisation form T239‘ for a person to represent you (not required if they are a practising barrister or solicitor).

Appeal to Tax Tribunal by Post

You can also download and fill in the appeal form and return it by postal methods to the address written on the form.

The tax tribunal helpline can give further help and advice about your appeal. But, the staff are unable to provide legal advice.

Tax Tribunal Helpline
Telephone: 0300 123 1024
Monday to Friday: 8:30am to 5pm
Check call charges for 0300 numbers.

A letter sent to you from the tribunal will explain what happens next. In some instances they may ask for further documentation to support the case.

You can ask for a hearing even though some cases go ahead without one. As a rule you will get at least two weeks of notice before the hearing takes place. The tribunal will send further information of any steps you need to take.

At the Hearing

When you have a hearing you need to bring copies of all the documents which are relevant to the appeal. That includes your notice of appeal, letters of correspondence, accounts papers and invoices. Remember to bring the decision made by HMRC and any response that you made to that decision.

If HMRC send you a ‘bundle‘ of their documents before you get to the hearing, you should bring those with you as well. This happens most often when your case is ‘standard or complex’.

The people who are present at the public tribunal hearing will be the tribunal panel. As a rule, the panel can include a judge, a tribunal clerk, and a tax expert. You also have the right to bring:

  • A representative to act for you (e.g. an accountant, lawyer, or a tax adviser).
  • A friend, a family member, or a work colleague.
  • A witness (if you feel it is necessary).

Either you (or your representative) will present your case to the tribunal. This is your opportunity to explain:

  • What has been already agreed.
  • What part you feel is wrong.
  • What evidence you have to support your case (e.g. extra documentation or witnesses).

Representatives from the other party will also have a chance to present their case. The tribunal panel and the other party may also ask you some questions during the hearing.

Decision at the Tribunal

As a rule, you will get the decision made at the tribunal:

  • In writing (if there was no hearing). The decision gets based on the appeal form and certain other paperwork.
  • In writing and within 1 month (often on the same day) if you had a ‘basic‘ case.
  • In writing and within 2 months if your hearing was ‘standard‘ or ‘complex‘.

Note: You may be able to ‘get a decision set aside‘ or ask for permission to appeal if you lose your case.

How to Get a Decision Set Aside (cancelled)

If you think there was a mistake in the process you may ask for a decision to be ‘set aside‘ or cancelled. The letter you get with the decision informs you how to get a decision set aside. You can also contact Citizens Advice for further help.

How to ask for Permission to Appeal

The most likely reason to appeal against the decision is if the tribunal made a legal mistake. It could be that they did not apply the law correctly or they failed to fully explain their decision.

  1. Ask for full written reasons if you have not had them already. You must do this within 28 days of the date on the decision notice – the decision notice will tell you how.
  2. Ask for permission to appeal. Download the ‘permission to appeal upper tribunal Form T247‘ and read the guidance notes. You must do this within 56 days of the date given on the full written reasons.

The address for sending the appeal form is:

First-tier Tribunal (Tax Chamber)
PO Box 16972
Birmingham B16 6TZ

Tax Tribunal
Email: [email protected]
Telephone: 0300 123 1024
Monday to Friday: 8:30am to 5pm
Find out about telephone call charges.

A judge then decides whether you can take the case to a higher tribunal. But, you can only appeal to the Upper Tribunal (Tax and Chancery) if you get permission from a judge.

You may apply to the Upper Tribunal for permission to appeal if the First-tier Tribunal refuses. The same applies if they only give you permission to appeal on limited grounds.

Tribunal Legislation and Previous Decisions

The tribunal must follow certain legislation on its decisions for all previous cases.

  • Previous Decisions: Search the decisions database. It helps to see how and why previous decisions got made.
  • Legislation: Check the government publications for further advice on the ‘practice directions’ and ‘practice statements’.

The tribunal must follow the Tribunal Procedure (First-tier Tribunal) (Tax Chamber) Rules 2009. The tribunal was set up by the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 and Transfer of Tribunal Functions and Revenue and Customs Appeals Order 2009.

How to Appeal to the First Tier Tax Tribunal in the United Kingdom