1. Appeal against a penalty

You may be charged a penalty if, for example, you’ve missed the tax return or payment deadline.

You can appeal against the penalty if you’ve got a ‘reasonable excuse’ for being late.

What may be a reasonable excuse

A reasonable excuse is something unexpected or unusual and outside your control that prevented you from sending your tax return or payment on time, like:

  • your partner died shortly before the tax return or payment deadline
  • you had a serious or life-threatening illness (eg a heart attack) that prevented you from dealing with your tax affairs
  • you lost important documents in a fire that couldn’t be replaced in time to complete your tax return
  • postal delays that you couldn’t have predicted
  • you registered for the HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) online service before the tax return deadline but didn’t get your activation code or user ID in time

What’s unlikely to be a reasonable excuse

The following aren’t usually accepted as a reasonable excuse:

  • you relied on someone else to send your return and they didn’t
  • your cheque bounced or payment failed because you didn’t have enough money
  • you didn’t get a reminder from HMRC
  • you registered for the HMRC online service after the tax return deadline

How to appeal

You can fill in appeal form SA370 explaining the problem as soon as you know your return or payment are late.

If HMRC sends you a penalty letter, you can use the appeal form that comes with it.

Only the nominated partner can appeal against penalties for sending partnership tax returns late.


You must appeal within 30 days of the date on a penalty letter from HMRC.

If you appeal later, HMRC will look at the information you give them and decide if they will consider your appeal.

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