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The First-tier Tribunal (FTT) has dismissed a taxpayer’s appeal for having a reasonable excuse. The taxpayer applied out of time for permission to appeal against penalties imposed by HMRC. The appeal was in relation to late payment penalties imposed on the taxpayer for failing to submit annual Self-Assessment returns on time for the tax years 2010-11 and 2012-13. The taxpayer also appealed against penalties relating to 2009-10 but these were subsequently cancelled by HMRC and therefore did not require consideration by the FTT.

The total amount of penalties charged was £2,900 including initial late filing penalties of £100, six month penalties, a 12 month penalty and daily penalties. The taxpayer gave a number of reasons for appealing against the penalties out of time. This included the fact that she was suffering from post-natal depression and that she did not remember receiving any tax forms/returns to complete for the years in question.

HMRC’s computer records showed that the tax return for the year ended 5 April 2011, was submitted electronically on 26 September 2014. That return was two years and eight months late. The return for the tax year 2012-13 was filed electronically on 25 September 2014. That return was accordingly, nearly eight months late.

The FTT was clear that on the balance of probabilities, the taxpayer did receive some or all of the notices and other correspondence sent to her by HMRC so that she was aware of the penalties. The FTT was also clear that the issue of post-natal depression was nine years before the appeal to HMRC and the taxpayer had been able to submit returns in the intervening period.

After taking all the circumstances into account the FTT decided that it was not appropriate to grant permission to the taxpayer to appeal outside the permitted time limits.