In Kamran Qurban v HMRC [2020] TC07935, appeals against late filing penalties for five tax returns were partly successful. Of the three different accountants engaged by the taxpayer over the five year period, only the death of one was found to be reasonable excuse.

  • Mr Qurban had filed his tax returns late for each tax year from 2010/2011 through to 2015/2016.
  • HMRC imposed initial, daily, six-month and 12-month Late filing penalties for each year to a total of £9,600.
  • Mr Qurban claimed adverse personal, work, health and family circumstances had caused mental and physical stress affecting his ability to function.
  • Mr Qurban appointed an accountant to deal with his tax affairs:
    • The first accountant made errors and without further recompense refused to communicate with the taxpayer and failed to file the returns up to 2011/2012.
    • A second accountant appointed in 2015 filed the outstanding returns to 2013/2014. He died in 2017 causing an additional delay.
    • A third firm of accountants was appointed, with the remaining returns filed.
  • Mr Qurban claimed these related to Reasonable excuse for his late filing and special circumstances prompting penalty reductions.

The FTT found that:

  • Mr Qurban did not provide enough evidence to prove that his unfortunate circumstances were 'peculiar' or 'distinctive' enough to warrant special circumstances.
  • Special circumstances existed where there was an "unusual event or situation which does not amount to reasonable excuse but renders the penalty in whole or part significantly unfair".
  • The death of the second accountant was a reasonable excuse for late filing but only for a period of some months.
  • The penalties imposed in July 2017 and January 2018, totalling £1,300, were covered by this reasonable excuse and were not payable.
  • The remaining penalties of £8,300 were still payable.
  • The appeal succeeded in part.

Useful guides on this topic

Adviser's Tax Penalty Planner
What penalties apply to different types of tax return? When do penalties apply? What are the filing deadlines? Which guidance do I follow? 

How to appeal an HMRC decision 
What type of decision can you appeal? What are your different options when you disagree with HMRC? What are the key steps in making an appeal?

Grounds for appeal: reasonable excuse 
What is considered to be a 'reasonable excuse' when a taxpayer makes an appeal?

External links

Kamran Qurban v HMRC [2020] TC07935