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HMRC internal manual

Inheritance Tax Manual

Reasonable excuse: serious illness, absence or domestic problems

In most cases it is unlikely that illness, absence or domestic problems would persist atsuch a level throughout the period for delivering an account. And even if the difficultieswere at their worst at the crucial time towards the end of the statutory period then thetaxpayer should still be able comply with their statutory duties within a reasonable timeafter then.

For an illness to be treated as a reasonable excuse it must generally be so serious thatit prevented the taxpayer from dealing with inheritance tax affairs before the deadlineand from that date to the time the completed account is sent in. Examples of suchillnesses include

  • coma
  • major heart attack
  • stroke
  • any serious mental or life-threatening illness.

If an illness involves a lengthy stay in hospital or convalescence the taxpayer isexpected to have made arrangements for completing and sending in the account on time. Butthere may be reasons why this is not possible and where you may accept it as a reasonableexcuse.

If the excuse is the serious illness of a close relative or partner, you may accept it asa reasonable excuse only if

  • the situation took up a great deal of the taxpayer’s time and attention during the period from the deadline to the date the completed account was sent in, and
  • steps had already been taken to have the account ready on time.

You should test excuses involving illness, absence or family problems but you shouldask questions with sensitivity. Where possible you should consider talking with thetaxpayer directly. If you are still unsure whether the excuse is reasonable when you haveall the facts, you should consult with your B2 manager.