With a record number of tax disputes coming to court, the implementation of the policy whereby suspected avoiders are expected to pay what HM Revenue and Customs believe they owe before their case is heard has been blamed for ‘bunging up’ the system. There are an increasing number of such cases building up with those who are involved in the process still awaiting a lead case.
There are reportedly a significant number of ‘Accelerated Payment’ cases awaiting hearing, but with almost 30,000 tax disputes still yet to be heard at tribunal, there are concerns that that the process is taking too long for those who are waiting for a verdict. The Financial Times has obtained figures which suggest that the number of appeals going before first tier tax tribunals has jumped by 8.5 per cent, representing a record number of disputes, totalling around 29,566 cases.
HM Courts and Tribunals have announced this month that their tax chambers are incredibly busy, with their backlog leaving them with a workload that is worsening as the AP cases loom. The tribunals will be hoping that a case whose result could have an effect on a number of others will be one of the first, in order to provide some clarity for those who are awaiting a hearing.
This sense of urgency has been added to by the ruling earlier this month which found in HMRC’s favour on the matter of whether their bid to get avoidance suspects to pay up before their case was heard was illegal. When the High Court failed to find in favour of the 154 scheme users who claimed that HMRC was operating outside of its remit by expecting them to pay the tax they were suspected of owing, it was considered a severe blow to the taxpayer. However, with rumours abounding that an appeal has been lodged against the decision, but if this is the case then it could mean that the hearing of the APN collection cases are delayed even further.
There is also a backlog of official responses from taxpayers who are disagreeing with the APNs that they have been issued, meaning that HMRC’s responses to those will also add to the length of time that cases could take. This could result in significant delays, especially given that the department has already warned that their responses could take up to two months, so there are still plenty of hurdles to be overcome before there is any definitive news.
If you are concerned about how you could be affected by a ruling on this matter, then consulting an expert accountant is the best way to set your mind at ease. Our specialist contractor accountants will ensure that you to avoid schemes which could land you in trouble, but still maximise your income and help you to manage your finances effectively. Call our friendly team today on 01253 362062 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.