HMRC Agent Update 57
The Scottish Government published a consultation in October 2016 on draft regulations regarding three matters: 1) the transfer of functions and members of the Scottish Tax Tribunals to the Scottish Tribunals; 2) the rules of procedure for the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland Tax Chamber; and 3) the composition of the First-tier and Upper Tribunals for Scotland.
Our response welcomes the fact that these regulations are being consulted upon. We think that the approach that is being taken, in terms of transferring in existing functions, membership and composition, is reasonable and sensible.
For the most part, the proposed First-tier Tribunal Tax Chamber rules of procedure replicate the current rules of the First-tier Tax Tribunal for Scotland. Generally, we welcome this approach, however there are areas where we think improvements could and should be made (and on which we have previously commented) and we draw attention to those areas in this response.
In terms of the rules of procedure, we set out some important principles, such as the fact that the First-tier Tax Chamber must both actually be and perceived to be, totally independent from Revenue Scotland; the Tribunal system must be accessible to all; and appellants must be fully advised of their appeal rights and be provided with adequate and neutral guidance on Tribunal procedures.
We also noted the importance of effective case management, ensuring that special needs are catered for and that cases are heard efficiently and by the most appropriate panel. The response also suggested the possibility of the Tribunal system providing a facility for tax and accountancy professionals to assist on a pro bono basis. This would be with the aim of making professional help available to those whose inability to afford assistance might have dissuaded them from pursuing a meritorious appeal.
It is expected that these regulations will be introduced into the Scottish Parliament in early 2017, with a view to them taking effect from 1 April 2017.