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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

Dishonest tax agents: file access notice: reasonable excuse: when does a reasonable excuse end

Where a person has a reasonable excuse for failing to comply with a file access notice, they must remedy that failure without unreasonable delay after the excuse ends.

If they do this, we will treat the excuse as continuing until the date they comply with the file access notice and will therefore not charge a penalty. If they do not do this, they will not have a reasonable excuse for the failure and therefore we will charge the penalty.

You need to consider carefully the point at which a reasonable excuse ends and the actions the person took after that time to provide the documents and information requested in the file access notice. Each case must be dealt with on its own merits.

In terms of unreasonable delay, there is no statutory definition of ‘unreasonable’. Each case must be dealt with on its own merits in view of the person’s abilities and circumstances.

FA12/SCH38/PARA25 (2)(c)