How do I appeal a Self Assessment late penalty?

Have you received a penalty for filing your tax return late?

Well you’re not alone with hundreds of thousands being sent out each tax year. The penalties are mainly automated and are sometimes sent in error.

HMRC wants to receive your appeal against a late filing or late payment penalty within 30 days from when you receive your late penalty notice.

An appeal can still be considered after 30 days however an explanation will have to be provided to HMRC for them to review before considering your appeal.

Making an appeal for a late tax return penalty

If you have a reasonable excuse a late tax return penalty can be challenged, but if you don’t make an appeal HMRC will keep demanding the money.

The tax system isn’t perfect and HMRC needs help to make sure you don’t pay unnecessary penalties.

Ignoring them won’t work and an appeal needs to be made as soon as possible, and in writing either online or through the post.

Common reasons for submitting a tax return late include:

  • You shouldn’t have been given a Self Assessment tax return
  • Illness
  • Postal delays
  • A death in the family
  • Software problems

You get the picture – if something has happened and it’s legitimate then HMRC can accept a reasonable excuse.

What are the late tax return penalties?

From the 6th April 2012 the penalties are… (different penalties applied before this date):

  • 1 day late – A fixed penalty of £100. Even if you have no tax liability, if you file your return even one day late you will receive this fine.
  • 3 months late – £10 for each following day for up to 90 days i.e. a maximum of £900. This is in addition to the £100 fixed penalty above.
  • 6 months late – A fixed £300 or 5% of the tax due, whichever is the higher. Again this is on top of the penalties above.
  • 12 months late – Another fixed £300 or 5% of the tax due, whichever is the higher.  In serious cases you may be asked to pay up to 100% of the tax due instead. Again these are in addition to all the penalties above.

Basically if you’re 12 months late in submitting your tax return, you could owe HMRC £1600!

Paying a fine before checking if you can make an appeal could cost you big – with penalties totaling £1600 and more just for one year.

Tell HMRC if you don’t need to complete a tax return

It is possible that you no longer meet the criteria to submit a tax return and the self assessment system doesn’t know.

You can use our guide to SA criteria to find out more about if you should be completing a tax return.

In these circumstances you can contact HMRC to inform them and if you don’t meet SA criteria the tax return can be cancelled along with any penalties.

How to submit your Self Assessment tax return penalty appeal

HMRC accepts an appeal against a penalty for late filing and late payment online or by post.

Submit late penalty appeal by post using form SA370:

A form SA370 can be downloaded from .GOV and printed. You can then complete the SA370 manually and post it to HMRC at the address given on the form.

You can also send in a signed letter providing your UTR number which included your reasonable excuse to (for individual tax return late appeals):

Self Assessment
HM Revenue and Customs
United Kingdom

Submit your late penalty appeal online:

Your appeal can be submitted online and you will need to access the process through your government gateway account which you can register for at the same time if you don’t already have one.

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