As you probably already know – Pay your taxes late get a penalty! – File a return late – get a penalty!

But are there any excuses that HMRC will accept to avoid a penalty? Well, as you would expect HMRC are not incredibly lenient, otherwise what would be the point of the penalty in the first place! “The dog ate it” is not going to get you much sympathy. However, if you genuinely were trying to submit it but had a reasonable excuse that something stopped you meeting a tax obligation that you took reasonable care to meet then an appeal may be successful.

A few examples include;

• your partner or another close relative 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
• you had a serious or life-threatening illness
• 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, flood or theft prevented you from completing your tax return
• postal delays that you couldn’t have predicted
• delays related to a disability you have

Being nothing more than just late to prepare it and then trying to find a reason to fit afterwards for the appeal will not work. A few examples that would be rejected include;

• 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
• you made a mistake on your tax return

So do not leave returns and payment to the last minute. The earlier you can get your information to your accountant the quicker they can prepare the necessary returns and let you know your liabilities. If you are not sure what deadlines you need to worry about – give us a call. We can talk through the when and how’s to make sure that you meet your obligations and avoid those late filing penalties.