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CIoT: Tax tribunal fees would impede access to justice

MINISTRY OF JUSTICE PROPOSALS to introduce fees for taxpayers wishing to take disputes with HM Revenue & Customs to tribunal would impede access to justice, according to the CIoT.

The ministry has proposed fees of between £50 and £200 for referring cases to the first-tier tribunal, with hearing fees to range from £200 to £1,000. Appeals to the upper-tier tribunal would incur an initial fee of £100 and could cost up to £2,000 for a hearing.

The institute is arguing that an obligatory fee for cases to be heard in the first-tier tribunal tax chamber and upper tribunal tax chamber will adversely affect access to justice, and is wrong in principle.

CIoT president Chris Jones said the measures will increase bureaucracy and complexity, “fail to protect” the most vulnerable taxpayers, and are “contrary to the interests of justice”.

He added: “Access to justice should be free to those who require it. Tax tribunal cases are between the citizen and the state (and in most cases initiated by HMRC); in this context, it is particularly perverse that in order to fight charges levied by one branch of government, an appellant would be obliged to pay another division of government.

“We understand the rationale behind wishing to discourage frivolous or vexatious cases, or to cover part of the costs of running the tribunal service and we would accept that there is a good case for considering charges targeted at higher-value tribunal disputes. However, the effect will be to deter some potential applicants, including many of modest means, and prevent them seeking access to justice when they have a perfectly good case.”

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