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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

Penalties for Failure to File on Time: Calculating the penalty: Penalty reductions for disclosure: Helping

Helping includes

  • giving reasonable help in providing the withheld information,
  • positive assistance as opposed to passive acceptance or obstruction,
  • actively engaging in the work to accurately quantify the tax liability of the return, and
  • volunteering any information relevant to the disclosure.

In considering whether a person has given reasonable help, you should always take account of the abilities and circumstances of the person.

What is important is the timing, nature and extent of the help the person gives in providing the overdue return.

  • The timing relates to how soon the disclosure is made and the period over which the help is given. As well as there not being any avoidable delays there should be an active approach, providing information and access to records as early as possible.
  • The nature covers whether the help is useful and saves you time and effort in quantifying the tax liability of the return. For the person to just appear to be helpful but not actually produce anything of use is not what is required.
  • The extent of the help covers the whole period of the compliance check from start to finish and all aspects of the compliance check. If help is only received for part of the time or in certain aspects you would not give the full reduction.

Overall, helping you with quantifying the tax liability of the return must be as active as possible.