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

How you appeal depends if the penalty is for either:

  • indirect tax, for example VAT, Customs Duty or Excise Duty
  • direct tax, for example Income Tax, Corporation Tax or Capital Gains Tax

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

How to appeal against an indirect tax penalty

You’ll be offered a review by HMRC in your penalty decision letter.

You can either accept the offer of a review or appeal to the tax tribunal.

How to appeal against a direct tax penalty

You’ll need to ask HMRC to look at your case again and consider your 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 against a Self Assessment penalty

If you’ve been charged a penalty for not sending a tax return but you do not need to send one, ask HMRC to cancel it. You can either:

If you’re appealing a penalty for a late tax return or late payment, how you appeal depends on whether:

You’ll need:

  • the date the penalty was issued
  • the date you filed your Self Assessment tax return
  • details of your reasonable excuse for late filing

Only the nominated partner can appeal a penalty for a partnership tax return.

You can also appeal by sending a letter to HMRC:

Self Assessment
HM Revenue and Customs
United Kingdom

If you’re an employer appealing against a PAYE penalty

You can appeal online if you’re registered for 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 do not have an appeal form

You can send a signed letter to HMRC instead. You must include a full explanation of why your return or payment was late, including dates.

Also include in your letter:

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

If you could not file or pay because of computer problems, you should include the following:

  • the date you tried to file or pay online
  • details of any system error message

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


You usually have 30 days from the date your penalty was issued to appeal.

If you miss this deadline you must explain the reason for the delay so that HMRC can decide if they’ll consider your appeal.

Getting a review

If HMRC do not change the decision and you still disagree, you’ll be offered a review.