A scheme designed to help small companies and individuals at loggerheads with the taxman has been upgraded from a trial to part of normal business, HM Revenue & Customs said yesterday.
Following a two-year trial, HMRC says it has now created a new national team of specially trained facilitators to help resolve tax disputes using the scheme, the Alternative Dispute Resolution Service.
Since last June, businesses and individuals in dispute with HMRC have been able to use the ADR to request the involvement of a ‘facilitator’ – an HMRC official unrelated to the dispute - to help both parties understand each other and work towards an agreement.
“Our customers have told us that they like the speed and flexibility of ADR,” Richard Summersgill, HMRC’s director of local compliance, said yesterday.
“Evidence has shown that by using the simple ADR service many disputes can be significantly shortened and resolved without recourse to Tribunal.”
The scheme’s expansion was welcomed by The Association of Taxation Technicians, whose members provide accountancy services to business owners, but not unreservedly.
“We will be following developments very closely to ensure that ADR lives up to expectations,” said ATT’s president Yvette Nunn.
the pilot scheme, ADR has already assisted with the resolution of a significant
number of direct and indirect tax disputes. It is good to see that many users
have praised its efficiency and speed with two
thirds of applications resulting in a full or partial resolution.”
The association added that the scheme should hopefully provide individuals, SME businesses and their advisers with a “cost-efficient and effective” way of settling tax disputes, the resolution of which has “been in need of reform for far too long.”