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 was not 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 can get your penalty cancelled if you did not send a tax return because you no longer needed to. Tell HMRC online you do not need to be self assessed or call the helpline.
Otherwise, to appeal 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
If you’re appealing a £100 late filing penalty from tax year 2015 to 2016 onwards, you can appeal online or by post. You’ll need to set up a Government Gateway account if you do not have one to appeal online.
For other penalties, you need to appeal by post. Send a completed form SA370 or a letter explaining your appeal to HMRC Self Assessment.
HM Revenue and Customs
If you’re an employer appealing 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:
- VAT if you had a reasonable excuse for filing late
- Corporation Tax if you filed late because of computer problems
If you do not 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 could not 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.
You must usually appeal within 30 days of the date of the penalty notice.
If you miss this deadline you must explain the reason for the delay so that HMRC can decide if they’ll consider your appeal.
If you or your business have been affected by coronavirus (COVID-19), HMRC will give you an extra 3 months to appeal any penalty dated February 2020 or later. Send your appeal as soon as you can, and explain the delay is because of coronavirus.
If you disagree with HMRC’s review
- ask the tax tribunal to hear your appeal - you must usually do this within 30 days of the review decision
- consider alternative dispute resolution (ADR)
Because of coronavirus, HMRC will not object if you ask the tribunal to hear your appeal after 30 days, if both:
- your review decision is dated February 2020 or later
- you ask within 3 months of the normal deadline