In JR Scott v HMRC [2015] TC04597 the First Tier Tribunal (FTT) allowed a special relief claim on the basis that HMRC had not addressed the appellant’s argument that determinations raised were unreasonably excessive.

The facts

  • Mr Scott had not filed his tax returns for 2006/07 and 2007/08, and so HMRC issued determinations for each year.
  • The returns were then filed in November 2012, outside of the time limit to displace the determinations. HMRC refused to accept the lower tax position from the returns and pursued the determined amounts.
  • Mr Scott wrote to claim special relief, on the grounds that his accountant had become ill and eventually passed away, and that the determined amounts were well in excess of the actual tax position.
  • HMRC rejected the claim because Mr Scott had a history of non-compliance with his filing obligations.

The decision

  • The tribunal found that the difference between the determinations and actual tax positions were striking enough that it was unacceptable for HMRC not to have addressed the issue when challenged on two occasions by Mr Scott’s representative.
  • In accordance with the "Wednesbury principle" (see case link below), the tribunal determined that HMRC had made their decision unreasonably and that is was therefore invalid.  
  • The FTT also dismissed the taxpayer’s tax filing history as irrelevant in this instance.


Critical to the decision, FTT did not comment on whether the determinations themselves were excessive, rather it was HMRC’s refusal to take the argument from the taxpayer into account that was at the heart of the decision. The procedural method used in arriving at the original decision was flawed.

Useful links