Tax Glossary

Reasonable Excuse

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Last updated on:
March 17, 2024

Reasonable excuse is a term used by HMRC to describe a valid reason for missing a tax deadline, such as submitting a Self Assessment tax return or paying a tax bill. HMRC acknowledges that unexpected or exceptional circumstances can prevent individuals and businesses from meeting their tax obligations on time.

Some accepted reasonable excuses include:

  • A close relative or domestic partner passing away shortly before the tax deadline.
  • An unexpected stay in the hospital that prevented you from dealing with your tax affairs.
  • Significant technical issues with HMRC's online services when trying to file your return.
  • Delays caused by postal services that you couldn't have predicted.
  • Being affected by a natural disaster, fire, or theft that prevented you from completing your tax obligations.
  • Other unforeseen or unavoidable circumstances that made it impossible for you to meet your tax responsibilities on time.

It's important to act without unnecessary delay once the issue preventing you from meeting your obligations has been resolved. To use a reasonable excuse, you must inform HMRC as soon as possible and provide evidence if requested. Failure to make your submission or payment immediately after your situation improves may invalidate your excuse, leading to penalties.

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