Today the 31st January, is the deadline for online filing and payment to Her Majesty Revenue and Customs (HMRC), for self-employed people. The good news for some, is the delay in the filing deadline, as seen in  http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/jan/31/hmrc-delays-tax-return-deadline-strike.  All because of the strike on privatisation fears which means filing up until 2nd February may be permissible.

In a recent HMRC Local Compliance SME, the use of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) for tax disputes in a pilot scheme has been incorporated in the HMRC regime.  ADR has been seen to be effective and efficient in its usage, especially for small and medium enterprises.

It has been observed by the HMRC that virtually all disputes that were selected and resolved using ADR had good and satisfactory results. This meant both HMRC and the customers were satisfied with the results. The essence of ADR, has always and continues to be the satisfaction of all parties in a disapute.This ADR does in a justly manner in small claims matters, as opposed in some ways to litigation.

The inclusion of ADR by the HMRC goes a long way in acknowledging the benefits of ADR in the resolution of disputes. The HMRC, in its  use of ADR in the resolution of disputes, adopts facilitators who are trained personnel. They take upon themselves by training ,the task of understanding issues relating to direct and indirect tax disputes.

The provision here is the requirement that the matter must fall within the criteria  listed as within the facilitator’s role  in the ADR scheme.

Whether ADR is an effective means of resolving disputes by the HMRC or not, can be seen by the feedback received in the use of the process, which to a large extent has been encouraging. The use of ADR by the HMRC in certain disputes  is provided for under http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/adr/appendix-a.pdf

The use of ADR does not in any way affect the customers right to have an internal review  or seek redress in a tribunal.  An important provision in the use of ADR by the HMRC is the fact the facilitator can not be called upon as a witness in a tribunal or court. The provision excludes the facilitator from liability and makes the use of ADR by the HMRC a matter of choice by parties.