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HMRC decide not to investigate late filing penalty appeals

5th June 2015

If you missed the deadline to file your 2013/14 Self Assessment (SA) tax return, then you may have recently received some good news.

In a change of tack, HMRC have confirmed that rather than thoroughly investigating each appeal against a late filing penalty, they will simply accept the excuse, providing it meets their requirements for being “reasonable”. However this revised attitude of HMRC’s is only applicable to 2013/14 SA tax returns, and HMRC must have been received the tax return by now.HMRC_Self_Assessment_tax_return

With up to 890,000 people missing the deadline for filing SA tax returns, nearly £89m in potential fines could be waived. Whilst a number of appeals are genuine and would be accepted under the old rules, these new guidelines open the doors for those who do not have a “reasonable” excuse to simply choose one of those listed by HMRC. This possibility was suggested by Labour MP and former chair of the Public Accounts Committee Margaret Hodge, who told the BBC that the change in rules “won’t be seen to be fair”, especially as many people do get their tax returns in on time.

This new approach may be born out of necessity rather than good will however, as HMRC have been forced to move staff to the tax credit helplines in order to assist the many claimants looking to renew their claims. Therefore it is likely that HMRC simply do not have the resources needed to investigate each late filing penalty appeal in detail, as they would prefer.