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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

From
HM Revenue & Customs
Updated
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Data gathering: penalties: reasonable excuse: what is reasonable excuse - examples

This page gives some examples of what might constitute a reasonable excuse for failing to comply with a data-holder notice.

Please remember that these are hypothetical examples and are only intended to give you an idea of the factors you might need to consider. They are not model answers to a particular situation or the ‘correct’ way to deal with similar cases. Real cases will have many other factors to take into account and you need to consider each in the light of all the relevant facts. An excuse will not necessarily be accepted as reasonable just because it seems to fit into one of these categories. It depends on the individual circumstances of each case.

The person can appeal and is entitled to a review if we do not accept their excuse, see ARTG2100 for direct taxes. See CH29680 for guidance about when a reasonable excuse ends.

Bereavement

Serious illness

Onset of disability or mental health condition

Unforeseen events

Bereavement

We will normally treat the death of a close relative or domestic partner around the time when the person should have provided the data as a reasonable excuse.

Serious illness

We will normally treat the serious illness of the person or of a close relative or domestic partner around the time when the person should have delivered the relevant data as a reasonable excuse.

Onset of disability or mental health condition

We would normally treat the onset of a disability or a serious mental health condition, where they make the person unable to comply with a data-holder notice, as a reasonable excuse.

However, we would expect someone who knows they will find it difficult to meet a requirement, because of an existing condition, to make every reasonable effort to anticipate this and make alternative arrangements.

Unforeseen events

We will normally accept that there is a reasonable excuse if the relevant data is lost or delayed in the post because of an unforeseen event disrupting the postal service. For example

  • fire or flood at the sorting office where the data would be held, or
  • industrial action trapping the data in the post.