Have you been hit in the last few weeks by an HMRC penalty? Maybe you were late in submitting your self-assessment. Perhaps you delayed by your tax beyond the January 31st deadline. Either way, no-one enjoys paying fines and maybe – just maybe – in your case, the penalty is unjustified. Of course, it all depends.
In our last blog, we looked at the penalties that HMRC apply if you’re late in submitting your self-assessment or paying your tax. This month, we’ll examine the options you have if you decide the penalty is unfair and you want to appeal.
I submitted my self-assessment in error
It could be that you didn’t need to file a self-assessment in the first place. Perhaps, for example, all the tax that you owed was already taken ‘at source’ – in other words, via PAYE; your monthly pay packet. Or maybe you had no taxable income for that tax year. In either case, you can ask HMRC to withdraw the return.
However, HMRC can’t withdraw a return just because you have no tax liability. If you’re self-employed, you still need to file a return, even if your taxable profit is low enough for no tax to be due. To ask HMRC to withdraw your return, call them on 0300 200 3310. If they are unresponsive and refuse to withdraw your return, call us – 01908 978500. We’ll help or advise you.
It wasn’t my fault that my I filed late
This can happen. ate filing penalties can be cancelled if you have a ‘reasonable excuse’ for filing late. This can happen. Below are just two of the circumstances under which HMRC may consider your case – but bear in mind, your ‘reasonable excuse’ must continue throughout the period that you were late – in other words, from the date that you should have filed up to the date that you did file.
- You relied on your accountant, and it was reasonable to expect that they would file on your behalf on time, and you did all you could to ensure this. But be careful – this won’t apply if your accountant has been unreliable before. HMRC’s argument is that you should have made sure your assessment was filed on time because your accountant has ‘history’.
- You registered for on-line filing before the 31st January deadline but didn’t receive your access code in time to make the submission.
Just because ‘special circumstances’ caused you to be late in filing your tax return, it doesn’t mean you can delay forever. You must still file your tax return as soon as you can – within 14 days of the end of the special circumstances which caused you to file late.
So – how do I appeal?
You need to make your appeal within 30 days of the penalty notice being issued, although just occasionally, but HMRC may consider late appeals. If they don’t, then you can apply to the Tax Tribunal to have your appeal allowed.
You must make your appeal in writing. Use one of the forms on this page. There’s a form for partnerships and one for the self-employed.
HMRC have rejected my appeal. Is that it?
Usually, yes. But, you can still ask them to review their decision. Maybe you missed out important information on your initial appeal letter. A different HMRC official will carry out the review. If this step fails too, you still have the option of appealing to the First Tier Tribunal (Tax). You can make your appeal to this body in person.
HMRC takes a narrow view of what is a ‘reasonable excuse’. You’ll find their view in full here.
It’s worth noting – you must file your tax return before making your appeal against the late filing penalties. Don’t submit the appeal … and then submit the return. HMRC will not be sympathetic. In fact – and this won’t surprise you – sympathy is not a characteristic for which HMRC is well-known!
We’re self-assessment specialists
This difficult and potentially stressful field is an area where we have enormous expertise. We’re perfectly placed to guide you through the maze of self-assessment, including deadlines, penalties and appeals.
For that all-important peace of mind, just pick up the phone. We’ll be delighted to hold a no-obligation conversation and talk you through the process.
Remember – we’re here to help