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Reasonable excuses for appealing a HMRC fine

From time to time we are faced with cases when it is not possible for client to meet their tax obligation on time.

In some cases, you can appeal fines if you have a reasonable excuse.

A reasonable excuse is something that stopped you meeting a tax obligation that you took reasonable care to meet.
Here are what may count as a reasonable excuse:
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 could not have predicted
delays related to a disability you have
If you're affected by coronavirus (COVID-19)
What will not count as a reasonable excuse?

The following will not be accepted as a reasonable excuse:
you relied on someone else to send your return and they did not
your cheque bounced or payment failed because you did not have enough money
you found the HMRC online system too difficult to use
you did not get a reminder from HMRC
you made a mistake on your tax 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.

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