Judicial Review of Accelerated Payment Notices

Accelerated Payment Notices (“APN”) were introduced in last year’s Finance Act to accelerate the collection of tax from individuals and companies that are party to tax avoidance schemes.

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) can only issue an APN if there is an open enquiry or open appeal and one of the following applies in respect of the tax avoidance scheme entered into by the taxpayer:

  1. A GAAR (General Anti-Abuse Rule) counteraction notice has been issued or
  2. The scheme is subject to a “follower notice” or
  3. The scheme is notifiable under the Disclosure of Tax Avoidance Schemes (DOTAS) rules and HMRC has issued a DOTAS reference number to the scheme

The major issues with the APN legislation are that you can only make representations about an APN to HMRC (there is no scope to appeal to a Tribunal or Court), the retrospective nature of the legislation and possible breaches of Human Rights law.

An application for Judicial Review on the question of the legality of APN notices has been made by more than 100 investors in film partnership arrangements set up by the company Ingenious Media. Permission for Judicial Review has been granted and a full hearing is expected to take place this summer.

It was hoped that the issuing of APNs would be suspended until the High Court judgement although it appears HMRC will continue to issue APNs and continue to expect taxpayers to pay them.

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