Covid-19: tax appeal deadlines extended

HMRC has extended the period available for taxpayers to appeal a tax decision by an additional three months, in light of the current pandemic

Under normal circumstances, HMRC writes to tell individuals if they can appeal, and they usually have 30 days in which to do so.

Updated guidance now states that if an individual or their business have been affected by coronavirus), HMRC will give them an extra three months to appeal any decision dated February 2020 or later.

Taxpayers should send their appeal as soon as they can, and explain the delay is because of the impact of Covid-19.

Anyone who wants to appeal a decision about ‘indirect tax’ (for example VAT, excise duty, customs duty) can request a review by HMRC or appeal straight to the tax tribunal. 

Following an appeal, taxpayers can accept HMRC’s offer of a review, or request one, if it is for direct tax.

A review will be carried out by someone who was not involved in the original decision. This usually takes 45 days. Anyone who disagrees with HMRC’s review can ask the tax tribunal to hear their appeal.

This should usually be done within 30 days of the review decision, but because of coronavirus, HMRC will not object if someone asks the tribunal to hear their appeal after 30 days, if two conditions both apply.

These are that their review decision is dated February 2020 or later, and that they ask within three months of the normal deadline. The same extension applies to appeals against penalty assessments, and to the provision of ‘reasonable excuse’.

Dawn Register, partner in tax dispute resolution at BDO, said: ‘This extension is welcome news as any clarification about how HMRC is going to help those impacted by Covid-19 is helpful to remove uncertainty and distress. This is also in-line with Companies House, who recently announced three-month filing extensions for accounts.

‘HMRC is looking to help people most acutely affected by Covid-19, for example those bereaved, but also taxpayers impacted by the challenges the lockdown presents. For example, some businesses and accountants haven’t been able to collect their post and will miss deadlines where HMRC only correspond by post. 

‘HMRC also confirmed that it will accept Covid-19 as a reasonable excuse for missed payment and tax filing deadlines too. Taxpayers can explain how Covid-19 affected them or their business and stopped them from meeting the HMRC deadline when appealing against penalties.

‘People should still file their return or make the payment as soon as they can after the excuse ends.’

 

Useful links

Guidance on reasonable excuses

Guidance on tax appeals

Guidance on penalty appeals

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