Reasonable Excuses for Missing the Tax Return Deadline

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Reasonable excuse HMRC

If you didn’t manage to get your self assessment tax return in by the 31 January deadline, you’ll face penalties and interest.

The best advice I can give you is to get the return filed and tax paid ASAP. There’s no avoiding putting in the return.

But, you may be able to avoid paying fines and interest if you have a “Reasonable Excuse” for missing the deadline.

As usual, HMRC is very prescriptive with what it defines as reasonable and not reasonable.

What HMRC considers “Reasonable Excuses”

  • your partner or close relative died shortly before the tax return or payment deadline;
  • you had an unexpected stay in hospital;
  • 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 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.

Here’s what won’t get you off the hook

  • 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.

How to Appeal

If you have a reasonable excuse you’ll need to make an appeal to HMRC.

You can do this on the HMRC website or by calling them on 0300 200 3310.

Deadline to Appeal

You must appeal within 30 days of the date of the penalty notice.

If you miss this deadline you must explain the reason for the delay so that HMRC can decide if they’ll consider your appeal.

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