Ministry of Justice trials online alternative to tax tribunal applications

The Ministry of Justice is trialling an alternative to the application process for tax tribunals to provide a quicker online service for people challenging disputed HMRC decisions, although fees will be introduced for the first time to cover administration costs

The new digital service will allow people to submit an appeal to an independent tax tribunal, rather than using the correct paper-based form, although this will still be available for those who prefer to use the non-digital version.

As part of the new service, fees for applying to the tax tribunal will be imposed for the first time, which will be calculated based on the amount disputed. Fees could start from as little as £20 up to £200 depending on the size of the tax bill at stake. The final fee scale has not been confirmed.

The change will be introduced as a Statutory Instrument (SI) via parliament in Q1 2017 when the fee structure will be published.

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson told CCH Daily: 'The online service is an alternative to the current system. We will be introducing fees for the first time; the amount of the fee will depend on the penalty or the size of the case. It is the administration fee for the tax tribunal, for sending documentation to the tribunal. On the old system there were no fees.

'On the online system there will be an explanation of the choices before you start, it will explain the fees, and there will be notes to make sure you are in time to appeal. It is very straightforward. We want to make sure it is really easy to use. Then when you are ready you start the process. Once you are happy with the process, you pay the fee within the same online transaction.'

The online application service will not replace the paper form completely, which will remain available for those without internet access or those who prefer to submit an application on paper. 

The tribunal will be operated by the Ministry of Justice and overseen by an independent judge who listens to both sides in the dispute before making a decision.

Anyone who wants to get involved in shaping the online service can sign up for a one-hour workshop at the Ministry of Justice this month.

The department is looking for volunteers to test the service and give feedback on what does and not work.

The workshops will be held at the Ministry of Justice, 102 Petty France, London SW1H 9AH.

Email for further information or Kelly Sizer at LITRG.

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I assume there is no instant repayment of the fees when HMRC lose the case. Depending on the level of fees this may impede some tax payers from rightly appealing against an incorrect or unjust assessment from HMRC. There have been so many examples of this lately and if a fee is now due HMRC will push ahead with more spurious assessments riding rough shod over justice and those tax payers who cannot afford justice..