3. Appeal against a penalty

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

  • sending in your tax return late
  • paying tax late
  • not paying enough tax
  • failing to keep adequate records
  • filing an incorrect return

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

How to appeal to HMRC

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

If you get your penalty notice by email from HMRC, you can either fill in form SA370 or write to HMRC, giving your reasons for appealing. 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 appealing a PAYE penalty

You can now 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, eg 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.


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 response

You can ask for a review to be carried out by an HMRC officer who wasn’t previously involved, or you can ask the tax tribunal to hear your appeal.