The ATT has warmly welcomed the initial results of HMRC’s Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) pilot.
ADR allows SME businesses and individuals who are in dispute with HMRC to request the involvement of an HMRC facilitator whose function is to help the taxpayer and the HMRC caseworker understand each other and work towards an agreement.
Because ADR is non-statutory, a taxpayer cannot insist on it but the mutual benefits it can give taxpayers and HMRC in appropriate cases mean that that it is likely to play an increasingly important role in the resolution of tax disputes. HMRC’s recently published evaluation1 of its pilot scheme shows encouraging signs for the future.
ATT President, Yvette Nunn, said:
“This evaluation of the ADR pilot is very positive. ADR can play a really helpful part in resolving log-jammed disputes where neither party is managing to persuade the other of their position. It is very sensible of HMRC to have avoided accepting too many cases into the ADR pilot. There has been a steep learning curve for everyone involved. We hope that when ADR becomes more widely available that it will help to resolve an increasing number of disputes thereby reducing the need for litigation and easing pressure on the tribunal system.
“During the pilot scheme, ADR has already assisted the resolution of a significant number of direct and indirect tax disputes. It is good to see that that many users have praised its efficiency and speed with two thirds of applications resulting in a full or partial resolution. The data in this evaluation will help HMRC make informed decisions as to how and when ADR is rolled out and what resources it will need.
“I will continue to encourage small businesses and tax practitioners to consider using the ADR pilot as these latest results show that participants can benefit significantly in time and cost. Tax dispute resolution has been in need of reform for far too long and this is, I believe, the shape of things to come; I look forward to further HMRC announcements on the rolling out of ADR.”
A general introduction of the ADR service is expected later in 2013.
Notes for editors
- More information on the ADR system and the trial evaluation publication (published on 10 April) can be found on the HMRC (ADR trial) website:
- ‘Feedback from customers and agents unanimously showed HMRC facilitators to be impartial and even-handed, and demonstrated an appreciation for the personal interaction that ADR gave them’. http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/news/resolution-trial.htm