Legitimate Excuses for Late Tax Returns

Jan 31, 2017 | Uncategorized



“It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one.” – George Washington.



The deadline for sending 2015-16 self-assessment tax returns to HMRC, and paying any tax owed, is 31 January 2017.


There are valid excuses that the HMRC will accept for late filing of tax returns.  As in all these cases the best practice is to tell the truth.   


A key point in all of the below is that the excuse must be genuine and the HMRC might ask for evidence.




What May Count as a Reasonable Excuse>>>>


According to the HMRC – a reasonable excuse is normally something unexpected or outside your control that stopped you meeting a tax obligation, for example:


1)      Your partner or another close relative died shortly before the tax return or payment deadline


2)      You had an unexpected stay in hospital that prevented you from dealing with your tax affairs


3)      You had a serious or life-threatening illness


4)      Your computer or software failed just before or while you were preparing your online return


5)      Service issues with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) online services


6)      A fire, flood or theft prevented you from completing your tax return


7)      Postal delays that you couldn’t have predicted


Those are examples of reasonable excuses – according to the HMRC’s criteria this is “when some unforeseeable or unusual event beyond your control has prevented you from filing your tax return on time”. 

Notice that the HMRC does not categorically say they will definitely honour the above excuses – they will obviously look at each individual case to determine their response.


It would be advisable to not only show proof of your situation to them, but also demonstrate that you have made some effort to overcome the problem.



The HMRC will expect you to send your return or payment as soon as possible after your reasonable excuse is resolved. 

IF they accept your excuse they will likely give you a deadline extension which you will then need to keep!



Excuses that the HMRC cite as not being acceptable include the following:



What Won’t Count 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



FYI – Late Tax Return Penalty Charges Explained:



Currently the penalties for late tax returns are an initial £100 fixed penalty, and additional daily penalties of £10 per day, up to a maximum of £900, after three months.


After six months, a further penalty of 5% of the tax due or £300 is imposed, and after one year, another 5% or £300.


There are also additional penalties for paying late of 5% of the tax unpaid at 30 days, six months and 12 months.




Here at Quay Accounts we have been beavering away through this tax season – and we are nearing the finishing line.  We hope that your experience of tax returns has been a positive one.  If we can help you with your accounting and tax affairs in the coming year – please don’t hesitate to contact us.



Until next time – Keep Calm and Carry On Tax Returning!!!!





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