Disagree with a tax decision

3. Appeal against a penalty

You can appeal to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) against a penalty, for example for:

  • an inaccurate return

  • sending in your tax return late

  • paying tax late

  • failing to keep adequate records

A HMRC officer who wasn’t previously involved with your penalty decision will carry out a review if you appeal.

If you want to appeal a penalty about ‘indirect tax’ (for example VAT, excise duty, customs duty) you can either:

  • request a review from HMRC
  • appeal straight to the tax tribunal

Your penalty may be cancelled or amended if you have a reasonable excuse.

How to appeal

If HMRC sends you a penalty letter by post, use the appeal form that comes with it or follow the instructions on the letter.

For Self Assessment, PAYE, VAT and Corporation Tax, there are extra documents you can use or alternative ways to appeal.

If you’re appealing a Self Assessment penalty

You’ll need:

  • the date the penalty was issued
  • the date you filed your Self Assessment tax return (if you’ve filed it)
  • details of your reasonable excuse for late filing

If you have a £100 penalty for filing a 2015 to 2016 tax return late, you can appeal online. You’ll need to set up a Government Gateway account if you don’t have one.

Otherwise you can appeal by post using form SA370 or by letter. Send your form or letter to HMRC’s address for Self Assessment enquiries.

If HMRC charges a penalty to a partnership for sending its tax return late, only the nominated partner can appeal using form SA371.

If you’re an employer appealing a PAYE penalty

You can appeal online using HMRC’s PAYE for employers service. Once you’ve logged in, select ‘Appeal a penalty’. You’ll get an immediate acknowledgment when you submit your appeal.

If you filed a late VAT or Corporation Tax return

You can also use these specific forms for:

If you don’t have an appeal form

You can send a signed letter to HMRC instead. Your letter must include:

  • your name

  • your reference number, for example your Self Assessment Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) or VAT registration number

  • a full explanation of why your return or payment was late, including dates


If you couldn’t file or pay because of computer problems, you should include the date you tried to file or pay online with details of any system error message.

Send your claim to the HMRC office related to your return.

Deadlines

You must appeal within 30 days of the date of the penalty notice. If you appeal later, HMRC will look at the information you give them and decide if they’ll consider your appeal.

If you disagree with HMRC’s review

You can: