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HMRC internal manual

Construction Industry Scheme Reform Manual

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Compliance: Overview & ‘Reasonable excuse’: Statutory Provisions

The following is a list of legislative provisions which have given some definitions of the term ‘reasonable excuse’.

TMA70/S118(2)

The statutory reference covering ‘reasonable excuse’ at TMA70/S118(2) states

“… where a person had a reasonable excuse for not doing anything required to be done he shall be deemed not to have failed to do it unless the excuse ceased and, after the excuse ceased, he shall be deemed not to have failed to do it if he did it without unreasonable delay after the excuse had ceased.”

VATA94/S71

‘Reasonable excuse’ is also referred to in the Value Added Tax Act 1994 which states

“For the purpose of any provision of sections 59 to 70 which refers to a reasonable excuse for any conduct—

(a) an insufficiency of funds to pay any VAT due is not a reasonable excuse; and

(b) where reliance is placed on any other person to perform any task, neither the fact of that reliance nor any dilatoriness or inaccuracy on the part of the person relied upon is a reasonable excuse.”

FA08/SCH41(20)

Finally ‘Reasonable excuse’ is also referred to in the Finance Act 2008 which states

“(1) …..in relation to an act or failure which is not deliberate if P satisfies HMRC or (on appeal) the First-tier Tribunal that there is a reasonable excuse for the act or failure.

(2) For the purposes of sub-paragraph (1)—

(a) an insufficiency of funds is not a reasonable excuse unless attributable to events outside P’s control,

(b) where P relies on any other person to do anything, that is not a reasonable excuse unless P took reasonable care to avoid the relevant act or failure, and

(c) where P had a reasonable excuse for the relevant act or failure but the excuse has ceased, P is to be treated as having continued to have the excuse if the relevant act or failure is remedied without unreasonable delay after the excuse ceased.”

FA09/SCH55(23)

Schedule 55 contains the provisions for the new penalty regime and, although for CIS, these provisions did not come into force until 6 October 2011, these also allow for someone to claim they have a ‘reasonable excuse’ so that a penalty will no longer arise. Paragraph 23(2) is drafted very similarly to the Finance Act 2008 provisions set out above so that insufficiency of funds and reliance on an agent are generally excluded.

“23—

(1) Liability to a penalty under any paragraph of this Schedule does not arise in relation to a failure to make a return if P satisfies HMRC or (on appeal) the First-tier Tribunal or Upper Tribunal that there is a reasonable excuse for the failure.

(2) For the purposes of sub-paragraph (1)—

(a) an insufficiency of funds is not a reasonable excuse, unless attributable to events outside P’s control,

(b) where P relies on any other person to do anything, that is not a reasonable excuse unless P took reasonable care to avoid the failure, and

(c) where P had a reasonable excuse for the failure but the excuse has ceased, P is to be treated as having continued to have the excuse if the failure is remedied without unreasonable delay after the excuse ceased.”

The legislation at both FA08 and FA09 relates to ‘reasonable excuse’ insofar as CIS penalties are concerned. However, you should also consider these provisions when working a tax treatment appeal, although the correct legislation to be used for these appeals will still be TMA70/S118(2).