How to appeal an HMRC self assessment penalty

We've updated this guide on 31st July 2019

If you’ve received a fine from HMRC, all is not lost. You can often appeal a Self Assessment penalty and get it delayed or even reduced.

Why you received a fine

Usually, one of two things:

Ways to appeal a Self Assessment penalty

Two ways:

In either case, you’ll need to provide a “reasonable excuse”.

What counts as a reasonable excuse

Anything that stopped you from doing your taxes even if you tried to:

  • your partner or relative died right before the tax return deadline
  • you had a severe illness at the time
  • your computer failed as you were filing
  • the HMRC online services didn’t work on that day
  • a fire, flood, theft, or other major incident prevented you.

In other words, dire stuff.

What doesn’t count as an excuse

A few examples:

  • you asked someone else to do your taxes, and they didn’t do it
  • your payment failed
  • you couldn’t figure out how to use HMRC’s website
  • you made a mistake in your tax return
  • even though you registered for online filing before the deadline, you didn’t get your access code in time.

How much time you have to appeal

You must appeal within 30 days unless you have a serious reason for appealing late.

If your appeal gets rejected

You can still:

  • appeal to the Finance and Tax Tribunals within 30 days
  • consider alternative dispute resolution.

If you can’t pay the penalty

Then you should:

The important part is: act fast and get help. Our tax accountants are an email away.

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