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This is a freeview 'At a glance' guide to reasonable excuse as a ground for appeal.

What is a 'reasonable excuse' in terms of making an appeal against a tax penalty for late filing, late payment or error?

Subscribers: see your detailed guide, Grounds for Appeal: Reasonable Excuse.

A taxpayer may appeal a tax penalty when they are able to prove that they had a reasonable excuse for not doing what they were supposed to do.

Each case will be considered on its own merits.

See Appeals: Grounds for Appeal Toolkit

Read this in conjunction with our guide: How to appeal a tax penalty.

Reasonable excuse or reasonable care?

To avoid any confusion in terminology:

These include:

The defence of 'reasonable care' is slightly different, although the two may cross over. 

What is a reasonable excuse?

'Reasonable excuse' is not fully defined by the legislation. For a reasonable excuse to be made out there are only two requirements:

HMRC's original view was that an excuse is reasonable where some 'unforeseeable and exceptional event' beyond the taxpayer's control is responsible for the compliance failure. Unsurprisingly the tax tribunals do not confine themselves to such a narrow interpretation.

Excuses may include (but are not limited to):

See Appeals: Grounds for Appeal Toolkit

Useful guides on this topic

Links to our guides are found in our Penalties & Compliance sections:


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