Tax Assist Advice – Reasonable Excuse

TaxAssist Accountants Bedford provide a wide range of accountancy services including tax returns, annual accounts, payroll and bookkeeping. TaxAssist Accountants in Bedford are a part of the largest network of accountants who offer a huge range of experience and expertise to over 52,500 small businesses right across the UK.


Andrew Logan is a TaxAssist Accountant who offers clients a personal service. Clients benefit from the core accountancy and tax services plus other additional services which help clients build their business and gain good contacts locally.

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Each month Andrew will feature a blog here on different topics of tax.

Q&As  – Reasonable Excuse

Question : 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?


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 get in touch with your local TaxAssist Accountant.  

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Disclaimer: Advice shared in this blog 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 forum, before receiving our written endorsement, we will accept no responsibility for any financial loss incurred.


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