Tax dispute resolution piloted in North West

The Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is a pilot for small and medium enterprises. It uses independent HMRC facilitators to resolve disputes between HMRC and customers during a compliance check but before a decision or assessment has been made. ADR aims to find a fair and quick outcome for both parties, helping to reduce their costs and avoid a tribunal.

The pilot in North Wales and the North West follows a successful trial, where 60 per cent of disputes were either fully or partially resolved.

HMRC’s, Jim Stevenson, Assistant Director, Local Compliance, said: “ADR will help SMEs resolve disputes without having to go to a tribunal – saving them both time and money. It is a good opportunity for HMRC to work together with our customers to potentially resolve disputes much earlier than at present. The facilitators are HMRC members of staff who have been trained in ADR techniques and have not been involved in the dispute.

“We have found that often there are communication problems. So the HMRC facilitator will help all parties reach a shared and full understanding of the disputed facts and arguments. They will also ensure there is good communication, and help explain what each side is trying to say to the other. The aim is to resolve the dispute or, if not, as many issues as possible.”

ADR does not affect existing processes or review and appeal rights, and covers both VAT and direct taxes.