In Onuchika Eleonu v HMRC [2023] TC8726, the First Tier Tribunal (FTT) dismissed an appeal against penalty notices. None of the excuses offered for the taxpayer's errors were 'reasonable'.

  • Ms Eleonu was an Agency Worker employed through an Umbrella Company.
  • She was issued with a notice to file a Self Assessment tax return for the year ended 5 April 2020. This was received.
  • In November 2020 the appellant visited the Citizen’s advice bureau to obtain assistance with her tax affairs.
  • HMRC issued Late Filing Penalties including daily penalties.
  • The appellant filed a notice of Appeal in November 2021

The FTT found:

  • The penalties were due, the appellant did not have a Reasonable Excuse for late filing. Her excuses included:
    • Claiming to have submitted the tax return. HMRC had no record of this and she could provide no evidence of submission.
    • Ignorance of the process required to complete a Tax Return.
    • The legality of HMRC issuing a tax return to a taxpayer who is subject to payroll.
    • Her change of address happened after she had received the notice to file.
    • Her claim that she had received legal advice that she did not need to file was without evidence.
    • No evidence was provided to justify claims that illness may have constituted a reasonable excuse.

The appeal was dismissed.


Useful guides on this topic

S.8(1) Notice to file a tax return
This guide examines the implications of a notice sent to an individual under s.8(1) TMA 1970 to file a tax return.

Penalties: SA late filing, payment, notification & error
Self Assessment (SA) tax penalties: what penalties are due for outstanding tax returns? What penalties are due for late payment? Are there special rules for COVID-19 delays?

Adviser’s Tax Penalty Planner
A guide to the key direct and indirect tax penalty regimes for returns and payments, excluding VAT.

Grounds for Appeal: Reasonable excuse
What is considered to be a 'reasonable excuse' when a taxpayer makes an appeal against a tax compliance failure?

Grounds for Appeal: Reasonable excuse (freeview)
What is a 'reasonable excuse' in terms of making an appeal against a tax penalty for late filing, late payment or error?

External links

Onuchika Eleonu v HMRC [2023] TC8726

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