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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

Penalties for Failure to Pay on Time: reasonable excuse: what is not a reasonable excuse

While you must consider all relevant circumstances, there are some situations which we will not normally accept alone as a reasonable excuse

  • Pressure of work
  • Lack of information
  • HMRC did not remind me
  • Ignorance of basic law.

What is or is not a reasonable excuse is personal to the individual’s abilities and circumstances. Those abilities and circumstances may mean that what is a reasonable excuse for one person may not be a reasonable excuse for another.

The law specifies two situations that are not reasonable excuses. These are

  • shortage of funds, see CH155800 for more detail and an exception, and
  • reliance on another person, see CH155850 for more detail and an exception.

FA09/SCH56/PARA16 (2)(a) & (b)