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.