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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

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HM Revenue & Customs
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Penalties for failure to file on time: in what circumstances is a penalty payable: overview

This guidance is about the penalties that apply where a person fails to file a return or other document by the appropriate deadline. For details of the commencement date for these penalties, see CH61120.

A person is liable to a penalty if they fail to file a return or other document on or before the filing date, see CH61140. The day after the filing date is the penalty date, see CH61160. Penalties for failing to file by the filing date apply after certain time periods from the penalty date.

There are specific rules depending on what tax the return or other document involves. The specific rules are called penalty models, see CH62020. However, this page outlines the broad rules that apply when a person fails to file a return or other document by the filing date.

A person becomes liable to an initial fixed penalty on the penalty date.

A person becomes liable to further penalties where the failure continues. The type of further penalty depends on the number of months the failure has continued after the penalty date.

Returns and other documents must be filed by their filing date. These are called the filing obligations, see CH61180.

A person is liable to a penalty if they fail to file the return or other document by the filing date, unless they

  • have a reasonable excuse for not doing so, see CH61500+, and
  • file the return or other document, or otherwise remedy the failure, without unreasonable delay after the excuse ends, see CH61660.

We can agree to a special reduction of the penalty in special circumstances, see CH63400.

There is a link to the legislation, Schedule 55 to Finance Act 2009, at CH61200.

Where we agree to withdraw a notice to file a self assessment tax return on request from a person then any late filing penalties that have been charged will be cancelled, see CH61700.

FA09/SCH55/PARA1

FA09/SCH55/PARA23