How to appeal an HMRC self assessment penalty
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:
- “Failure to Notify”: HMRC believes that you needed to file a tax return, but you didn’t
- late filing or late payment.
Ways to appeal a Self Assessment penalty
- online or by phone: but only for the £100 late filing penalty.
- print and send the SA370 form via post.
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:
- make a “hardship application” with HMRC
- appeal to the tribunal: HMRC will wait for your payment until the tribunal sorts out your appeal.
The important part is: act fast and get help. Our tax accountants are an email away.
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