HMRC Appeals: How to Challenge HMRC

Dealing with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) during disagreements can seem daunting; it’s like an individual going up against a powerful tax organisation.

However, there’s a silver lining: you have the right to challenge HMRC’s decisions, and submit HMRC appeals.

HMRC Appeal

(Read Time: Approx. 4 minutes)

Topics Discussed:

  • Understanding your rights to appeal HMRC decisions, and the most effective strategies in doing so.
  • Detailed walkthrough of the appeals processes for tax disputes

Your Right to HMRC Appeals: A Closer Look

Contrary to popular belief, the majority of decisions made by HMRC are not final.

Recent data highlights that in the 2022-23 tax year, only 36% of HMRC’s initial decisions were upheld after internal review.

This statistic underscores a significant opportunity for taxpayers to contest and potentially overturn HMRC’s assessments, especially in cases involving automated penalties where the upheld rate drops to 31%.

Embarking on the HMRC Appeals Journey

The right to appeal encompasses a broad spectrum of HMRC decisions, from automated penalties for late submissions to intricate tax relief claims.

Whether you choose to represent yourself or engage a professional such as, initiating an appeal is a right that shouldn’t be overlooked.

For direct taxes, the notification of a penalty also includes your appeal rights.

Timeliness is crucial, with a 30-day window from the letter’s date to submit your HMRC appeals.

This initial step demands clarity and thoroughness, outlining the specifics of your disagreement and the rationale behind it.

If dissatisfied with HMRC’s response, an internal review by a different officer may lead to a resolution more favourable to your position.

Tax Tribunal: The Final Stage

If an impasse remains, the Tax Tribunal remains the final chance to appeal HMRC’s decision.

Although challenging, with HMRC boasting a strong success rate, it’s not an insurmountable hurdle, as evidenced by high-profile victories like Kaye Adams’s triumph in the Court of Appeal.

The Marathon Fight: Kaye Adams vs. HMRC

A Long Battle for Clarity

Over a span of five years and four court hearings, Kaye Adams – a freelance journalist and presenter on ITV’s “Loose Women” – has finally emerged victorious against HMRC in a dispute over her contracts with the BBC for Radio Scotland.

This legal tussle, rooted in the intricacies of IR35 legislation, scrutinized Adams’ employment status across the tax years 2013/14 to 2016/17, involving her personal service company, Atholl House Productions Ltd.

Despite the heavy financial and emotional toll, Adams’ persistence led to a significant part of her work being classified outside of IR35, challenging HMRC’s initial assessments.

Judicial Journeys and Reassessments

The case’s journey through the First Tier Tribunal (FTT), Upper Tribunal (UT), and even the Court of Appeal underscores the complex nature of determining employment status under IR35.

Each stage revisited and re-evaluated the application of tests designed to distinguish between employment and self-employment, eventually leaning towards Adams’ self-employed status.

This process highlighted the substantial costs involved, with Adams and HMRC incurring significant legal expenses far exceeding the disputed tax amounts.

Final FTT Decision and Its Implications

The FTT’s conclusive judgment, favouring Adams for the third time, sets a precedent in the interpretation of IR35 tests, particularly emphasizing the practical aspects of contractual relationships and industry practices.

Despite the victory, the ordeal reflects the strenuous journey individuals and businesses may face in proving self-employment status, shedding light on the need for clearer guidelines and the heavy burdens imposed by protracted legal disputes.

This case serves as a strong reminder that, although there can be hardships involved, a case as high-profile as this can be appealed against.

Strategies for a Successful HMRC Appeal:

  • Meet Deadlines: Ensure timely submission of your appeal to avoid automatic dismissal by HMRC.
  • Request Postponement of Payment: Alleviate financial pressure by asking for the disputed amount payment to be deferred until the appeal conclusion.
  • Be Thorough and Organised: Meticulous documentation and adherence to procedural requirements can fortify your appeal.
  • Scan and Copy Documents: Always keep copies of submitted documents to prevent delays in your appeal process.
  • Explore Alternatives to Tribunal: Consider HMRC’s review or alternative dispute resolution (ADR) to potentially resolve the dispute without the need for a tribunal.
  • Seek Professional Guidance: Complex cases can benefit from the expertise of tax professionals, ensuring your appeal is presented in the most compelling manner.

The Road to Resolution

The duration of the appeals process is variable, influenced by the complexity of the case, HMRC’s workload, and the timeliness of your appeal.

While simple cases might be resolved swiftly, more complex disputes could extend over months, or even years in cases involving tax avoidance schemes.

Patience and persistence are key, with proactive follow-ups recommended if there’s an extended silence from HMRC.


Facing HMRC can seem overwhelming, but with expert guidance, success is entirely possible.

At, we excel in turning challenging situations to your advantage.

Our speciality is in detailed planning, strategic insight, and steadfast support throughout the appeals process.

We are prepared to strengthen your case and ensure all your rights are fervently represented.

You do not need to face this alone.

For unrivalled assistance and to ensure your case is as strong as possible, contact us at

Partner with us to challenge HMRC with confidence. Reach out today for a consultation and enhance your appeal with our expert support.

Contact us today at 01772 788200 to find out more about how we can help, or WhatsApp us out-of-hours at 07787 010190.

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Kind regards,

Ilyas Patel