A powerful combination of factors has led to an explosion in tax-related disputes: a tougher attitude from HMRC; a need for the government to raise more money; more complex legislation; broader drafted ‘anti-avoidance’ provisions reducing legal certainty; and a more purposive approach to interpretation by the courts.
There are not only more disputes arising with HMRC but also more tax-related disputes between commercial parties where the risks and costs of a tax dispute are part of the make-up of a commercial relationship.
However, most tax disputes do not lead to formal litigation before the tribunal or the court. An early grasp of the issues at stake and appropriate legal guidance, including a proper appraisal of the strengths and weaknesses of the parties’ positions, can often resolve disputes at an early stage. Where lack of certainty in the law means a more protracted dispute is inevitable, then relevant issues may include being, or not being, a ‘test case’ and where appropriate creating groups of litigants to share the risk…
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