Extract from an article by Adrian Rudd (of PricewaterhouseCoopers, Tax Adviser's representative on Technical Committee) covering the Institute's response to the consultation by the Lord Chancellor's Department on the future of the tax appeals system - 29 June 2000 The Institute has responded to the consultation by the Lord Chancellor’s Department on the future of the tax appeals system. The issues raised were described by Christopher Wallworth in Tax Adviser, May 2000.
The Institute’s response to the consultation document was based on the premise that the existing appeals system should be replaced by a ‘Tax Appeals Tribunal’, comprising two tiers, which would hear all taxation appeals, including those relating to stamp duty and land valuation disputes.
The upper tier would be modelled on the VAT and duties tribunal, but specialist lay individuals may be appointed to sit in individual cases where specific knowledge may be required.
The Institute felt that the General Commissioners’ role should be retained, and broadened to accommodate other taxes. Their administrative organisation and training needs to be radically overhauled, but the number of locations at which cases are heard should be retained if the informality and fairness of the present system are to be preserved.
Different taxes should be treated alike, with similar procedures applying to all cases in the same tier, but there would be differences between the tiers reflecting the different types of cases likely to be heard.
Composition of the tribunals
The Institute thought that appointments would normally be made from the business community – such persons would have an appropriate knowledge and understanding of the local community which they would be serving. However, the opportunity should be available to all with open advertisements.
The Institute thought that at least one member of the panel, probably the Chairman, should have either a legal qualification, be a Chartered Tax Adviser, or hold an appropriate accountancy qualification. The Clerk to the Commissioners should become a purely administrative function so that any formal legal qualification will not be necessary.
The Institute considered that the lack of payment deters applications from a broader cross section of the community. If the best possible are to be encouraged to apply, consideration should be given to the payment of an allowance to ensure that no Commissioner is left out of pocket by volunteering to undertake the responsibility.
The tax tribunal must be independent of the revenue authorities, but of much greater importance is the requirement for it to be seen to be independent. The Institute suggested that the title ‘Tax Appeals Tribunal’ should be adopted, and that it should be part of the court service. In order to highlight this independence, all appeals and applications should be sent to the relevant regional centre. Copies of the appeals and applications would then be sent out by the Tax Appeals Tribunal to the relevant parties.
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