Beta This part of GOV.UK is being rebuilt – find out what this means

HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

From
HM Revenue & Customs
Updated
, see all updates

Data gathering: penalties: reasonable excuse: overview

A person is not liable to a penalty for failing to comply with a data-holder notice, if

  • they satisfy us that they have a reasonable excuse, for the failure, and
  • they put right the failure without unreasonable delay after the excuse has ended.

The onus is on the person who failed to comply with the data-holder notice to satisfy us that they had a reasonable excuse at the time of the failure.

There is no statutory definition of reasonable excuse, which is a matter to be considered in the light of all the circumstances of the particular case. See the more detailed explanation at CH29620.

What is reasonable will differ from person to person depending on their particular circumstances and abilities. However, there are some excuses that are not normally accepted as reasonable. These are

  • shortage of funds, but see the exception in CH29660, and
  • reliance on another person, but see the exception in CH29670.

If the reasonable excuse for the failure ends, the excuse will be treated as continuing if the data-holder

  • puts right the failure, and
  • does so without unreasonable delay after the excuse ends.

If the person does not put right the failure without unreasonable delay after the excuse has ended they remain liable to a penalty.

What is unreasonable delay depends upon the facts and circumstances of each case, see CH29680. If the data-holder does delay unreasonably then, whatever the reason for the failure, they do not have a reasonable excuse.

If we decide not to accept the data-holder’s excuse as reasonable, they can request a review or appeal. The person may appeal to the tribunal whether or not they request a review. The Appeals, Reviews and Tribunals Guidance (ARTG) contains full details of the review and appeals process at ARTG2100.

If the data-holder had a reasonable excuse for failing to comply with the data-holder notice and corrected that failure without unreasonable delay, they will not be liable to a penalty for the offence.

FA11/SCH23/PARA34