Late tax return? You have the right to appeal a penalty if you have a reasonable excuse, says industry body, as the deadline for self-assessment tax return draws nearer

Hayley Kirton
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"We are concerned that people may feel panicked by penalty notices from HMRC and just pay financial sanctions" (Source: Getty)

With just one hour to go until the deadline for self-assessment tax returns, an industry body has urged those who have a reasonable excuse for not hitting submit by midnight to appeal any late filing penalty they receive.

The Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (LITRG) of the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) has today warned that, although the efforts of HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to encourage people to file on time are admirable, it is concerned that those with a genuine reason for filing late may not be aware of their rights to appeal late filing penalties.

"We are concerned that people may feel panicked by penalty notices from HMRC and just pay financial sanctions for filing self-assessment forms late without considering that there may be excellent reasons for the delay in filing that may make them eligible for special treatment," said Anthony Thomas, chairman of the LITRG.

A late filing penalty of £100 automatically applies to anybody who misses tonight's filing deadline and further charges can apply if the deadline is missed by more than three months.

Read more: A gentle reminder for tax return procrastinators

HMRC has already established a helpline for those who have been affected by the recent bad weather and subsequent flooding. However, there are many other circumstances where HMRC may be willing to waive the penalty, including an unexpected hospital stay close to deadline day or software failing at the the moment somebody tries to submit a return.

However, while these excuses may explain a delay, they won't cover any further procrastination, and the LITRG reminds taxpayers that they should endeavour to file their return as soon as possible after their extenuating circumstances have subsided.

Read more: Thousands of self-employed facing fines for late tax returns

That being said, it's worth noting that HMRC has already revealed that the following excuses were unsuccessful in getting the late filing penalty set aside, no matter how tempting it might be try them:

1. My tax papers were left in the shed and the rat ate them

2. I’m not a paperwork-orientated person – I always relied on my sister to complete my returns but we have now fallen out

3. My accountant has been ill

4. My dog ate my tax return

5. I will be abroad on deadline day with no internet access so will be unable to file

6. My laptop broke, so did my washing machine

7. My niece had moved in – she made the house so untidy I could not find my log-in details to complete my return online

8. My husband ran over my laptop

9. I had an argument with my wife and went to Italy for 5 years

10. I had a cold which took a long time to go

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