Written by: Keith Tully
Published: 25th July 2018
The number of legal cases brought against HMRC increased by as much as 36 per cent over the course of last year.
According to the latest figures on the subject, there were a total of 122 judicial reviews involving the UK’s main tax-gathering body during 2017, as compared to 90 in the previous 12 months.
The figures were only released after a Freedom of Information request was filed by the law firm RPC, which has said that cases are being brought against HMRC more often partly in response to its “dogmatic and aggressive approach” to collecting revenues.
RPC has suggested that HMRC’s increasingly robust approach to bringing money into the Treasury is the result of political pressures on it to maximise potential incomes within any given timeframe.
This is believed to have in turn led to an increase in the number of people and organisations deciding that they need to defend themselves legally through the courts against the demands of HMRC.
“HMRC’s increasing aggression and intransigence mean that judicial reviews are becoming far too common and are all too often the result of simple errors by [HMRC] and a dogged refusal to correct them,” said Adam Craggs, a partner with RPC.
“This substantial increase in judicial review challenges would suggest that taxpayers are not prepared to be treated unfairly by HMRC and are willing to challenge its decisions and seek redress from the High Court.”
However, for its part, HMRC has noted that it tends to win a majority of cases brought against it in the courts.
A spokesperson for the Revenue said in a statement that HMRC “never settles disputes with taxpayers for any less than the amount of tax we believe reasonably is due under the law”.
“We always defend our position in the courts to protect the interests of the vast majority of taxpayers who play by the rules.”
HMRC has previously come in for criticism for its use of Accelerated Payment Notices (APNs) which allow it to issue demands for payment within 90 days of monies believed to be owed, even where the details are disputed by the demand recipients.
Earlier this year it was revealed that the Revenue has been forced to withdraw in the region of 6,000 APNs in recent years after it was established that they were sent in error.