You can appeal to the First-tier Tribunal (Tax) if you want to challenge some decisions by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), Border Force or the National Crime Agency (NCA).
The tribunal is independent of government and will listen to both sides of the argument before making a decision.
Consider alternative dispute resolution (ADR) before you appeal to the tribunal.
Appeal an HMRC decision
You can appeal some decisions about:
- ‘direct tax’, eg Income Tax, PAYE tax, Corporation Tax, Capital Gains Tax, National Insurance contributions, Statutory Sick Pay, Statutory Maternity Pay, Inheritance Tax – you must appeal to HMRC first
- ‘indirect tax’, eg VAT, excise duty, customs duty – you can usually appeal straight to the tribunal
You must appeal within the time limit – it’ll usually be on your decision letter.
If you can’t pay
You must usually pay upfront what HMRC says you owe. Make a hardship application if you can’t. Appeal to the tribunal if HMRC won’t let you delay payment.
You don’t have to pay upfront if you’re appealing about a penalty.
Appeal about seized goods
You must ask HMRC or Border Force to take your case to the magistrates’ court (this is known as starting ‘condemnation proceedings’) if you think they shouldn’t have taken (or ‘seized’) your goods.
The tribunal can’t decide whether your goods were seized with good reason.
You may be able to appeal to the tribunal if HMRC or Border Force:
- refuses to return your seized goods
- says you need to pay to get your seized goods back
- sends you an assessment for duty
- tries to charge you a penalty
You must ask HMRC or Border Force to reconsider their decision before you can appeal.
You can apply for a ‘closure notice’ if HMRC opens an enquiry to check your tax return for ‘direct tax’ (eg Income Tax, Capital Gains Tax or Corporation Tax) and you want it to be closed.
Read the detailed guidance if you need help.
The tribunal will decide when HMRC should close the enquiry.
You can’t apply for a closure notice if your tax return is being checked for ‘indirect tax’.
Appeal an NCA decision
The National Crime Agency (NCA) can check your tax return instead of HMRC in some cases, eg if they suspect you’ve been laundering money.
You can make an appeal if you don’t agree with the decision by writing to the NCA.
National Crime Agency
Units 1 – 6 Citadel Place
Help you can get
You may want to get help and advice before you appeal.
You can get free advice from:
Read more detailed information about appealing to the tribunal.
Appeal to the tribunal
Download and fill in application form (T245) if you’re applying for a closure application.
Post or email the form to the tribunal – the contact details are on the form.
If your appeal is late, you must explain why.
Contact the tax tribunal helpline if you have any questions about completing the form. The helpline can’t give you legal advice.
The tribunal will let you know if your appeal form is incomplete or you have no right to appeal.
What happens next
You’ll get a letter from the tribunal explaining what will happen with your case. It will also tell you whether your case is ‘basic’, ‘standard’ or ‘complex’.
The tribunal can decide some appeals after reading the appeal form and other paperwork, but you can ask for a hearing if you’d prefer one.
If your case is ‘standard’ or ‘complex’ send a list of relevant documents to HMRC and the tribunal.
You’ll usually get at least 14 days’ notice of the date of the hearing. The tribunal will write to you with details of what you need to do. The hearing will be held at your nearest venue.
If you have a hearing
You must bring copies of all documents relevant to your appeal (eg letters, invoices and accounts) to the hearing together with your notice of appeal. You must also bring the decision from HMRC and any response you made.
HMRC may send you a ‘bundle’ of their documents before the hearing. You must bring this with you if your case is ‘standard’ or ‘complex’.
Who’ll be at the hearing
The hearing will normally be held in public. The tribunal is made up of:
- a tribunal panel, including a judge and, in some cases, a tax expert
- a tribunal clerk
You can also bring:
- a representative to act on your behalf eg a lawyer, tax adviser or accountant
- a friend, family member or colleague
- a witness, if you need one
What happens at the hearing
You (or your representative) will present your case to the tribunal. You must explain:
- what has been agreed
- what you think is wrong
- what evidence you have to support you, ie any documents or witnesses
Representatives from the other party will present the case against you.
The tribunal and the other party may also ask questions during the hearing.
The tribunal's decision
You’ll usually get the tribunal’s decision:
- in writing, if you didn’t have a hearing (the decision will be based on the appeal form and other paperwork)
- in writing within 1 month, if you’ve had a ‘basic’ case – you’ll sometimes get a decision on the day
- in writing within 2 months, if you’ve had a ‘standard’ or ‘complex’ hearing
If you lose your case
If you lose your case, you may be able to:
- get a decision ‘set aside’
- ask for permission to appeal
Get a decision set aside
You can ask for a decision to be ‘set aside’ (cancelled), but only if you think there was a mistake in the process. The letter you get with the decision will tell you how to do this. Contact Citizens Advice if you need help.
Ask for permission to appeal
You may be able to appeal against the decision if the tribunal made a legal mistake, eg it didn’t:
- apply the law correctly
- fully explain its decision
- Ask for full written reasons if you haven’t had them already. You must do this within 28 days of the date on the decision notice – the decision notice will tell you how.
- Ask for permission to appeal – download the appeal form and read the guidance notes. You must do this within 56 days of the date given on the full written reasons.
Send the appeal form to:
First-tier Tribunal (Tax Chamber)
PO Box 16972
After you send the form
A judge will decide if you can take your case to a higher tribunal, called the Upper Tribunal (Tax and Chancery). Appeal to the Upper Tribunal if you get permission.
If you’re refused permission to appeal
You can apply to the Upper Tribunal for permission to appeal if the First-tier Tribunal refuses, or only gives you permission to appeal on limited grounds.
Legislation and previous decisions
Read the rules the tribunal must follow and its decisions on previous cases.
Search the decisions database to see how and why previous decisions have been made.
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.
Last updated: 25 October 2016