Stevenage
01438 727141
Hitchin
01462 413249
Cambridge
01223 929150
Bedford
01234 639466
Hemel Hempstead
01442 503901

Appeal against HMRC penalties

You can appeal to HMRC against a penalty for:
  • Late filing of a return
  • Paying tax after the due date
  • Failing to pay all the tax you owe
  • Unable to demonstrate that you have kept adequate records to underpin your tax returns
  • Filing an incorrect return
Your penalty will be cancelled or amended if you have a reasonable excuse.
The latest definitions of what does, and what does not constitute a reasonable excuse are set out below.

What counts as a reasonable excuse

A reasonable excuse is normally something unexpected or outside your control that stopped you meeting a tax obligation, for example:
  • your partner died shortly before the tax return or payment deadline
  • you had an unexpected stay in hospital that prevented you from dealing with your tax affairs
  • your computer or software failed just before or while you were preparing your online return
  • service issues with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) online services
  • a fire prevented you from completing your tax return
  • postal delays that you couldn’t have predicted
You must try to send your return or payment as soon as possible after your reasonable excuse is resolved.

What’s unlikely to be a reasonable excuse

The following aren’t usually accepted as a reasonable excuse:
  • you relied on someone else to send your return and they didn’t
  • your cheque bounced or payment failed because you didn’t have enough money
  • you found the HMRC online system too difficult to use
  • you didn’t get a reminder from HMRC

If you have a disability

If you have a disability and claim to have a reasonable excuse that prevented you from meeting a deadline, HMRC will consider whether you made a reasonable effort to meet your obligation on time.