Tax Tribunal backlog at record high
It appears that the backlog of tax disputes waiting to be heard by the Tax Tribunal has reached a new high, particularly on high value cases lodged with the Upper Tribunal.
In the year to 31 March 2014, 27,246 cases were waiting to be heard by the tribunal, an increase on the 26,985 cases outstanding at 31 March 2013 and more than double the 13,456 outstanding at 31 March 2010. 267 new Upper Tribunal cases were lodged in 2014, an increase of 32% on the previous year, and almost four times as many as five years ago.
The Judicial Appointments Commission is currently recruiting up to four salaried judges and up to 35 fee-paid judges and deputy judges in an effort to ensure that tax cases are heard faster.
This backlog means that it could still be some years before a ruling is reached on more complex cases, which could cause problems for individuals or businesses issued with accelerated payment notices. These can be issued to collect tax where there is an open enquiry or appeal on tax avoidance. A delay on a hearing could be a real issue for taxpayers that have already had to pay the disputed tax.
HMRC do have to pay interest if they lose the case eventually. This is unlikely properly to compensate for the lack of investment opportunity.
Date: 18th December, 2014
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