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Taxpayer Wins Appeal against HMRC with £5,045 Penalty Charges

Published by Prerana
Published Date: April 22, 2024

In a ground breaking decision, a taxpayer won the tribunal case against HMRC regarding the High Income Child Benefit Charge. Paul Brown, who represented himself at the First Tier Tribunal, recently succeeded in having discovery assessments and penalties worth £5,045 removed from his record. The case revolved around the High Income Child Benefit Charge (HICBC) and shed light on the inadequate communication between taxpayers and HMRC, which led to critical failures.

How Did the Tribunal’s Decision Go in Favour of Brown?

If a partner earns over the upper earnings limit, they have to pay the High Income Child Benefit Charge to the HMRC. Brown received £3,973 in discovery assessments and £1,072.71 in penalty charges related to HICBC over the years 2014 to 2018. The discovery assessment charges were made under Section 29 of the Taxes Management Act 1970 (TMA), and the penalties were charged under Schedule 41 of the Finance Act 2008.

Tribunal case against the HMRC

Brown became aware of these charges on 23 June 2021 and appealed to the HMRC against all charges on 5 July 2021. Brown's win in the case was based on his claim that he was not aware of his liability to the High Income Child Benefit Charge (HICBC) due to a lack of communication from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). Despite HMRC's efforts to inform high-income taxpayers of their obligations through marketing campaigns, the tribunal concluded that Brown had not received any reminder letters from HMRC and, therefore, was not aware of his tax liabilities.

The tribunal's decision was centred on HMRC's responsibility to prove the accuracy of the HICBC assessments. As there was not enough proof to support the validity of the assessments, the tribunal ruled in Brown's favour. The ruling emphasised the importance of careful consideration and attention to detail when conducting tax assessments.

Outcomes of the Tribunal

The case of Paul Brown serves as an example of the complexities of tax assessments and the potential consequences of misunderstanding or neglecting tax laws even by the authority. This highlights the significance of maintaining accurate records and seeking expert guidance when dealing with tax issues.

Tribunal case regarding the High Income Child Benefit Charges (HICBC)

In response to the tribunal's decision, HMRC acknowledged the mistake and apologised to Mr Brown, stating that they would not appeal the decision.


This case serves as a ray of hope for taxpayers navigating complex tax regulations and gaining fair enforcement from tax authorities. The lack of evidence from HMRC resulted in the tribunal judges ruling in favour of Mr Brown, highlighting the importance of perseverance and justice in taxation.

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