Tax Tribunal still lacks clarity

The Ministry of Justice is still to reveal key details of the new tax
Tribunal system, including confirmation of judges, with only a week to go before
it comes into effect.

The new system sees the amalgamation of the General Commissioners, the
Special Commissioners, the VAT and Duties Tribunal and the Section 703 Tribunal,
and will be separated into first and second tier tribunals as of 1 April.

Tax experts said that much of the information on the new system was coming
too late. ‘The first of April has crept up very quickly ­ we’re all going to
have to get up to speed,’ said Mike Warburton, senior tax partner at Grant
Thornton. He added that the timing of the new Tribunal has been poor, coinciding
with the Budget and the recession.

‘It’s a lot of change that could’ve come at a different time. It should all
be there by now,’ Warburton said.

Bill Dodwell, tax partner at Deloitte, said that the profession is yet to
learn who the new tribunal judges will be. ‘People have been applying for
Tribunal judge positions but I’m not aware of any more detail and it starts in a
week,’ he said.

The Tribunal judge’s application process is thought to have concluded in
October last year.

‘The ministry hasn’t done anything useful in distributing the information.
Everyone is dismayed at the lack of announcements,’ he said.

A spokeswoman for the Tribunals Service said reforms to the tax appeals
system have been in the pipeline for some time and extensive consultation was
undertaken with key stakeholders.

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