Disagree with a tax decision

6. Reasonable excuses

You can appeal against some penalties if you have a reasonable excuse, for example for your return or payment being late.

What may count as a reasonable excuse

A reasonable excuse is normally something unexpected or outside your control that stopped you meeting a tax obligation, for example:

  • your partner or another close relative died shortly before the tax return or payment deadline
  • you had an unexpected stay in hospital that prevented you from dealing with your tax affairs
  • you had a serious or life-threatening illness
  • your computer or software failed just before or while you were preparing your online return
  • service issues with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) online services
  • a fire, flood or theft prevented you from completing your tax return
  • postal delays that you couldn’t have predicted

You must send your return or payment as soon as possible after your reasonable excuse is resolved.

What won’t count as a reasonable excuse

The following won’t be 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 found the HMRC online system too difficult to use
  • you didn’t get a reminder from HMRC
  • you made a mistake on your tax return

If you have a disability

If you have a disability and claim to have a reasonable excuse that prevented you from meeting a deadline, HMRC will consider whether you made a reasonable effort to meet your obligation on time.