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Tony Tax
Tony Tax, Tax Consultant
Category: UK Tax
Satisfied Customers: 15915
Experience:  Inc Tax, CGT, Corp Tax, IHT, VAT.
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Hi My girlfriend signed up to self-assessment a couple

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My girlfriend signed up to self-assessment a couple of years ago when she was studying abroad so she could claim back UK tax. However, she forgot that she had done this and is now facing sizeable fines for failing to submit 2010/2011 and 2011/12 returns.

As she was living abroad she did not receive the reminders (they were sent to a UK address where she was no longer living) and only became aware of the money she owed in July this year (2013) when a letter sent to this address was finally forwarded to her.

Would she be able to appeal against the fine on the grounds of not having received the returns? The likely reason for this is that the people living at the address she left in August 2010 threw them out/ignored them rather than forwarding them on.

(She is now employed full-time in the UK and pays PAYE tax. The only income to declare on a self-assessment form is profit from a property she owns and rents out.)

Thanks in advance for your help!

Was your girlfriend letting a UK property when she was studying abroad? If not, did she have any other sources of income? What tax was she reclaiming?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Tony, thanks for the prompt response


Yes, she was renting out a UK property when she was studying aborad. I think she thought she would be able to claim back some employment tax (NI?) although I'm not sure this was based on expert advice.






Leave this with me while I draft my answer.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks Tony - just to be clear, the main question is whether she will be able to appeal against the fines (which are up to over £2,500 now) on account of not having received the returns as they were sent to an address where she no longer lived.





Hi again.

Given that your girlfriend was letting a property while she was abroad, the tax office will argue that she must have known that she should be completing tax returns to disclose the rental income, especially since she was already in the self-assessment system. They will also argue that she should have informed them of a change of address, even a foreign one. The fact that the reminders and penalty notices were not forwarded to her is not an excuse as far as HMRC is concerned I'm afraid.

Having said all that, your girlfriend can appeal against the tax return penalties and, if necessary, she can take her case all the way to an independent tribunal. You can read about the penalty regime here and the appeals process here. I'm afraid that there are few situations where the tax office will accept an excuse for the late submission of the returns and if they are still outstanding they should be completed and submitted as soon as possible. The second link I gave you sets out what HMRC consider to be acceptable and unacceptable excuses.

If I were your girlfriend, I would appeal by letter, albeit that the deadlines for appeals have probably been missed. If the first appeal is refused, then she should ask for a review of the decision and if the review upholds the first decision, then she should ask for the case to be taken to a tribunal. None of this should cost anything but time so as far as I'm concerned, there is really nothing to be lost. In addition, the tax office may think again if your girlfriend asks for a tribunal as there is no guarantee they will win at a tribunal.

I hope this helps but let me know if you have any further questions.
Tony Tax and other UK Tax Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks for the thorough and prompt reply Tony - this is very useful.


Good luck with the appeal.