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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

Data gathering: penalties: reasonable excuse: what is not 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.
  • HMRC did not remind me.
  • Ignorance of basic law.
  • Lack of information.

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

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

  • shortage of funds, see CH29660 for more detail and an exception, and
  • reliance on another person, see CH29670 for more detail and an exception.