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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

From
HM Revenue & Customs
Updated
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Penalties for Failure to File on Time: in what circumstances is a penalty payable: reasonable excuse: what is a reasonable excuse - examples

This page gives some examples of what might constitute a reasonable excuse for failing to file on time.

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 and ARTG3000+ for indirect taxes. See CH61660 for guidance about when a reasonable excuse ends.

Bereavement

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

Serious illness

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

Unforeseen Events

We will normally accept that there is a reasonable excuse if the return or document 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 return or document would be held, or
  • industrial action trapping the return or document in the post.