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Going to the tax tribunal? Join the queue

It was recently reported that there is now a backlog of 30,000 cases waiting to be heard by the first tier tax tribunal as at April 2015.

This compared with some 10,000 cases five years ago. Anyone who finds themselves in the unfortunate situation of having an intractable dispute with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) will therefore find themselves having a long wait until their case can be heard.

It will be apparent to any tax professional who scours the tribunal reports looking for matters of general importance, or perhaps even just interest, that frequently cases brought before the tribunal will involve very small sums of money. Until recently cases involving £100 late filing penalties were common, until HMRC put forward the suggestion that people in such cases should plead reasonable excuse, which HMRC would then accept in a perfunctory manner.