The Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) has published 'The tax tribunals: the next ten years'. A review the past ten years of operations of the First Tier Tribunal (FTT) reveals that there is still a backlog of cases which is caused by staff shortages and a lack of judge's time.

The Tax Law Review Committee (TLRC) found that users of the FTT system had serious concerns about its operations but overall the tribunal system had proven strengths and was an improvement on what had preceded it. The report reviewed documentary evidence and surveyed FTT users (mainly barristers and solicitors) in December 2020 and used follow-up interviews in February 2021.

The TLRC outlined a number of benefits of the introduction of the First Tier Tribunal in 2009.


The TLRC also identified areas of concern about FTT operations and a major cause of dissatisfaction among tribunal users was the delay in cases and that this existed before the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The TLRC noted that there is a high turnover of staff within the FTT administration, with many staff regularly leaving to join other government departments on more favourable terms. This often results in the tribunal administration being understaffed, due to delays in recruitment.

The TLRC said it believed that any lack of preparation may stem from the lack of judicial resources in the FTT that has been identified to exist in several of the recent annual reports of the President of the FTT. 


Annexed to the report are the results of a survey and interviews of tribunal users (mostly solicitors and barristers) which, together with the experiences of members of the TLRC, informed the report.

Useful guides in this topic

How to appeal a tax penalty (subscriber version)
What are the steps in making an appeal? What should your appeal cover? What does recent case law say on this topic?

Appeals: Grounds for Appeal Toolkit
What grounds are there to appeal a tax penalty? How can you word a tax appeal? Can you appeal HMRC errors? What is a reasonable excuse? 

How to appeal a penalty for late filing of a tax return or late payment of tax. This section covers appeals in relation to tax returns and payments for income tax Self Assessment, Corporation Tax, PAYE, Non-residents CGT, VAT, ATED, SDLT and IHT.

This section covers HMRC powers, anti-avoidance measures, overpayments and special regimes.

Appeals: VAT
The process of making a VAT appeal largely follows that of direct taxes, however, there are some differences.

CPD: Appeals: How to Appeal a Tax Penalty

External link

Tax Law Review Committee: The tax tribunals: the next ten years

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