In PJD AV Services Ltd v HMRC [2019] TC7336 the First Tier Tribunal refused to allow a late appeal against a corporation tax late filing penalty; it was up to the company, not it's agent to ensure its tax affairs were up to date.

If you are out of time to Appeal a decision by HMRC and you have a reasonable excuse you can ask HMRC to accept a late appeal.

  • If HMRC denies your request you may apply to the tribunal who will consider whether it is in the interests of justice to allow the appeal.
  • Reliance on an adviser can be a reasonable excuse; but in many situations it will not be accepted.

PJD had filed late corporation tax returns and received Late filing penalty notices which their adviser failed to tell them about.

  • By the time the company became aware of the penalties they were too late to appeal them.
  • Nevertheless, the company appealed; the appeals were between six and thirty months late.
  • The reason given for the late appeals (and late filing) was that the company had relied on its agent who had always confirmed that the filings were all done correctly and on time.
  • HMRC stated that notices to file and penalty notices had been issued to PJD’s registered office address, and no correspondence was returned as undelivered by the Post Office.

HMRC argued the delays were serious and significant and said they have a “legitimate expectation of finality”.

The FTT agreed refusing to allow the late appeal. The judge cited the Upper Tribunal cases of Martland and Katib in her reasoning, saying that the filing of returns remains the responsibility of the company and it should have made a conscious effort to ensure its tax affairs were up to date.

She also noted that the company registered office address did not appear to be that of the agent; the address and therefore the penalty notices must have been accessible to the director meaning that reliance on the agent was no excuse.

Comment

This decision is a warning to company directors that if your registered office is at your office or home address and not that of your agent you should not simply ignore notices from HMRC and trust that your agent will deal with them. And perhaps a gentle reminder to agents that when a client forwards on everything they ever receive from HMRC this is the right approach even though it may mean ultimately there are multiple copies of the same document on the client files.

Links to our guides:

Appeals: Late

Corporation tax penalties

Grounds for Appeal: Reasonable excuse

How to appeal a decision of HMRC

External link:

PJD AV Services Ltd v HMRC [2019] TC7336 

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