AN ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION PROGRAMME is to be rolled out nationally by HM Revenue & Customs after a successful two-year trial.
Businesses and individuals involved in a dispute with the taxman will now be able to take advantage of "independent HMRC facilitators" who will mediate between the parties in order to resolve disputes during a compliance check before a decision or assessment is made.
It is hoped the method could help ease the strain on the tribunal system, which faces a hefty backlog. In the last quarter of 2011, 22,100 cases were awaiting first-tier hearings, while the number going through the process rose from 9,100 in 2010 to 11,000 in the same year.
HMRC director of local compliance Richard Summersgill said: "I am delighted to announce that alternative dispute resolution for small businesses and individuals has entered mainstream HMRC business.
"We know that taxpayers like the speed and flexibility of alternative dispute resolution, and evidence has shown that by using the simple service, many disputes can be significantly shortened and resolved without recourse to tribunal."
ADR is available to small business and individual taxpayers where a tax issue is in dispute, whether or not an appealable tax decision or assessment has been made by HMRC.
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