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Can I avoid the Late Filing Penalty for my Self-Assessment Tax Return if I have a reasonable excuse?

My Mate Say… ‘I can avoid the late filing penalty for my self-assessment tax return if I have a reasonable excuse’.


Online Self-Assessment Tax returns need to be filed by 31st January, failure to meet with this deadline will result in a late filing penalty starting from £100. The penalty rises by £10 a day after 3 months and depending on how late it is you could have to also pay a percentage of the tax due as a penalty too.

If you usually file your return in the post, the deadline of 31st October has passed so if you file by paper now you will have a late filing penalty.

HMRC will waiver the late filing penalty if they feel that you have a reasonable excuse for missing the deadline.

Possible excuses that HMRC may accept as a reasonable excuse:

• Serious or life-threatening illness

• Issue with HMRC’s website that prevent you from completing the online form

• Disability that restricts you from meeting the deadline

• Postal delays that you couldn’t have predicted

• A fire, flood or theft that prevented you from completing your Tax Return

• Unexpected stay in hospital that prevented you from dealing with your tax affairs

HMRC have said that they won’t accept some excuses such as:

• Asked someone else to do it and they didn’t

• HMRC website is too difficult to use

• Didn’t receive reminders

Every year HMRC posts a list of the funniest/strangest excuses they’ve received, here are some of them:

• My mother in law is a witch and put a curse on me

• I’m too short to reach the post box

• I was just too busy – my first maid left, my second maid stole from me, and my third maid was very slow to learn

• I spilt coffee on my Tax Return

• My boiler had broken so my fingers were too cold to type

• My husband left me and took the accountant with him

• My dog ate my tax return and all the reminders

Although the above excuses are amusing, we recommend seeking advice for tax related matters as they are safer in the hands of a professional, please contact us if you have any queries about your personal situation at or 01908 219100.

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