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COVID-19: Conduct of tax tribunals

Updated 25 March: First tier tribunal tax proceedings have been put 'on hold' in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Updated on 25 March: Amended guidance on proceedings in the first tier tribunal tax chamber due to COVID-19

FTT proceedings have been put ‘on-hold’ in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our initial news item, only a few days ago indicated that FTT proceedings would be held without physical presence wherever possible (eg, by email or video conference). However, the new announcement supersedes this direction, yet another area in which guidance is changing almost daily, requiring affected parties to keep a close eye on updates.

Directions have been issued by the FTT stating that with immediate effect, all proceedings are stayed for a period of 28 days from 24 March 2020 and all time limits in any current proceedings are extended by the same period. Any party to proceedings may apply for these directions to be amended, suspended or set aside or for further Directions in relation to those proceedings.

It is not clear how appeals to the Tribunals will be managed in light of the fact many of these are dealt with by paper. We are aware of concerns raised by ICAEW members regarding the fact that their offices are shut and it is very likely that paper notices will not be received (eg, assessments and penalties) and the associated 30-day time limit for appeals missed. In our letter to Jesse Norman, we asked that existing 30-day deadlines are extended to 90-days. The Tax Faculty is raising these concerns with HMRC how processes and channels of communication can be managed. Further guidance will be published as soon as it is available.