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HMRC internal manual

Compliance Handbook

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HM Revenue & Customs
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Penalties for VAT and Excise Wrongdoing: 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 a non-deliberate, see CH93300, VAT or excise wrongdoing.

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 if we do not accept their excuse, see ARTG3000+. See CH92400 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 of the wrongdoing 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 of the wrongdoing as a reasonable excuse.