Reasonable Excuse

I haven't filed my tax return for last year but I've been reading that HMRC aren't charging penalties for late returns. Is that true?

1st July 2015

Not exactly. It has always been the case that if you file your tax return late, you can appeal the late filing penalty if you have a 'Reasonable Excuse'. 

What counts as a Reasonable Excuse is normally something unexpected or outside your control that stopped you meeting a tax obligation, for example: 

  • Death of your partner shortly before the deadline 
  • An unexpected stay in hospital  
  • Your computer or software failed just before or while you were preparing your return online 
  • HMRC online service issues 
  • Postal delays that couldn’t be predicted 

It has been announced that HMRC will not contest appeals against the £100 late filing penalty in respect of 2013/14 tax returns where the taxpayer has provided a Reasonable Excuse for not filing on time. The return must have been filed and you have only 30 days from the date of the Penalty Notice to make your Reasonable Excuse claim. A longer timeframe is possible, but you would need to explain why it took you so long to make your claim.  

In the past, HMRC has looked in detail to judge if each excuse is "reasonable" but the department is making tax evasion and avoidance its priority.  

If you would like any assistance in completing your outstanding return and making a Reasonable Excuse claim, please contact us and we'll put you in touch with your local TaxAssist Accountant.  

By Jo Nockels

Disclaimer: The information provided is based on current guidance (at date of publication) from HMRC and may be subject to change. Any advice shared here is intended to inform rather than advise. Taxpayer's circumstances do vary and if you feel that the information provided is beneficial it is important that you contact us before implementation. If you take, or do not take action as a result of reading this information, before receiving our written endorsement, we will accept no responsibility for any financial loss incurred.

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