How to appeal a tax fine

23 February 2012

Penalty notices for failure to submit self-assessment tax returns on time are being sent to 850,000 people over the next two weeks.

Each notice carries a £100 fine for those who missed the 2 February deadline for submitting an online return to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and this will apply even if you don't owe anything.

If you delay submitting your return further the fine increases and beyond three months an additional £10 fine per day will be applied – to a maximum of 90 days. 

But if you think you've been wrongly fined there are ways to have the penalty waived by HMRC. 

For instance, you may be able to appeal the fine if you had a 'reasonable excuse' for your form being late. This could be a family illness or bereavement or a delay in HMRC sending out an online activation code. Appeals must be submitted by 31 March and a full list of excuses can be found on 

Stephen Banyard, spokesperson for HMRC, says: "We want the returns, not the penalties. So anyone who still hasn't sent theirs should do so as soon as possible."

And for the first time ever, the Revenue is now letting people off the £100 fine if they can prove they shouldn't have ever received a self-assessment form or have been in the system in the first place.

Should you be in self-assessment?

If you can answer no to all of the following questions then you should call HMRC on 0845 900 0444 and it may be able to waive the fee and take you out of the self-assessment system.

  • Were you self employed or a partner in a business at any time in the year?
  • Were you a company director?
  • Did you receive income over £100,000?
  • Did you receive more than £10,000 in savings and investment income?
  • Did you receive more than £2,500 in untaxed income?
  • Did you receive income from letting out property?
  • Did you receive foreign income liable to UK tax?

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