In Quayviews Limited v HMRC  TC08515, the First Tier Tribunal (FTT) quashed late filing penalties imposed on an employer who had submitted its RTI returns between two and five months early: it had reasonable excuse for not submitting the returns 'on time'. HMRC has not advised that very early filing was not allowed and HMRC's software allowed it.
- Quayviews Limited (Quayviews) submitted Real-Time Information (RTI) returns using HMRC’s Basic PAYE Tools software on 4 September 2020 covering the periods ending:
- 5 November 2020.
- 5 December 2020.
- 5 January 2021.
- Having previously incurred several Late filing penalties, the company sought to prevent this by batch filing a number of returns in advance.
- HMRC agreed that the returns had been filed on 4 September 2020, but charged three late filing penalties of £100 as the returns had been filed too early and were therefore treated as not having been filed correctly and in time.
- Following a review by HMRC, which upheld the penalties, Quayviews Appealed to the First Tier Tribunal (FTT).
Paragraph 6C(1) of Schedule 55 Finance Act 2009 states that a penalty is due for a particular month if a person fails, during that tax month, to make a return on or before the filing date.
The FTT found that:
- Paragraph 6C(1) requires a return to be filed during the relevant tax month.
- The early filing by Quayviews meant that it did not make a return during each of the RTI periods under appeal.
- Quayviews would therefore be liable to a penalty unless the company had a reasonable excuse.
- Quayviews had a Reasonable excuse for the failure to file their RTI returns during the tax periods in question.
- The company had intended to ensure that their returns were not late, but was not aware that the legislation requires that an RTI return be filed within the relevant tax month.
- Quayviews’ actions in filing the returns early, because they did not know that this was not permitted by law, were reasonable.
- None of HMRC’s previous correspondence with Quayviews stated that RTI returns could not be made more than one month in advance. HMRC’s software had permitted the returns to be made early, without warning.
The appeal was allowed.
Common sense appears to have prevailed in this case. The Tribunal suggested in its conclusion that HMRC’s guidance, education letters and software should be updated to make it clear to taxpayers that there is a statutory limit on how early an RTI return can be made.
Useful guides on this topic
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RTI: Real-Time Information for PAYE
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Grounds for Appeal: Reasonable excuse
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