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Wriggle Room and Late Filing Penalties

12 February 2016 No Comment

Do you have a penalty notice from HMRC relating to the late filing of a 2013/14 or 2014/15 Self Assessment tax return?

Then you may be interested in a working practice which HMRC introduced recently, because they don’t have enough staff to check “reasonable excuse” claims. And whatsmore, they have extended the meaning of “reasonable excuse” which used to be limited to things like . .

  • Death of a close relative
  • Burglary
  • Flood

. . . to include a number of lesser reasons which they previously refused to accept. So “reasonable excuse” now includes . . .

  • Computer failure
  • Service issues with HMRC online services
  • Postal delays

However, these new concessionary rules apply only to 2013/14 and later penalties. Furthermore, you will not secure the cancellation of such a penalty notice until the following two conditions have been satisfied:

  1. The SA tax return for that year has been received by HMRC.
  2. The taxes due for that year have been paid.

Quite why they arbitrarily draw the line between 2013/14 and older years we don’t know. There’s a bit of recent case law which may help though. It’s about being treated fairly by HMRC and if you have an older penalty which might be cancelled under the new working practice, let us know and we’ll try to help.