The short answer is yes, you can appeal your HMRC penalties provided you have adequate evidence to support your appeal. The HMRC can raise various penalties including failure to pay/file and failure to notify penalty. If you find yourself in this situation and you’re wondering “How do I fight the HMRC” you have found the right place to help you.  The HMRC leaves ample room for individuals (Self Assessments) and corporations (Corporate tax and VAT returns)  to appeal against a penalty, it is just about understanding the process to make use of it.

Which Penalties can I Appeal?

The good news is that if you have done your due diligence and took reasonable care to have your tax returns done accurately and timeously, it is pretty straightforward. The HMRC will most likely be lenient and reduce your penalty by 100% if you can provide proof. Some of the penalties you can appeal against include:

  • An Inaccurate return from HMRC
  • Late Filing Fee
  • Making tax payment late
  • Failing to Keep Adequate Financial Records


This applies to almost all penalties (individual and corporation) that are raised by the HMRC. But what is considered a reasonable excuse?

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

Reasonable Excuse to get out of hmrc penalty

We recently posted a blog where we go into a few ways you can reduce your HMRC penalty: How can I reduce my HMRC penalty. A quick summary of what they considered a reasonable excuse is provided below: 

  • Emergency hospitalisation 
  • Death of a loved on (Partner or close relative)
  • Serious or life-threatening illness
  • Computer or software failure while submitting or filing tac returns
  • Service issues with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) online services
  • Natural Disaster or unplanned circumstances (Fire, flood or theft prevent)
  • Postal delays that you could not have predicted
  • Delays related to a disability or mental illness you have
  • You were unaware of or misunderstood your legal obligation
  • You relied on someone else to send your return, and they did not

Time Limits on Appealing the HMRC penalty

If you have notified the HMRC that you wish to appeal the penalty, they will send you a letter offering a review. You have two options moving forward, either allow the HMRC to review the penalty and circumstances surrounding it (usually takes around 45 days, but they will inform you if it will take longer) or you can appeal straight to the tax tribunal.

The tax tribunal requires you to inform them of your intention to appeal your penalty within 30 days of the letter of review being delivered to you. The tax tribunal usually takes a lot longer to resolve the appeal. We would also like to draw your attention to the fact that you can request a review from the HMRC, and if you are not happy with the outcome, you can then move on and submit an appeal to the tax tribunal to dispute the outcome of the HMRC.

Penalty Appeal Procedure


CIGMA Accounting is a London based accounting firm with offices in Farringdon and Wimbledon. Our team of accountants have over 16 years of experience and appealing penalties is no exception. Over the last 6 years CIGMA has a 90% success rate in getting penalties reduces or completely removed. 


We are so confident that we can help clients reduce their liabilities that we work on a “no win, no fee “policy. If we cannot get your penalty reduced, we will not charge you. If you want to take advantage of this offer you can contact us below:

Wimbledon Accountant

165-167 The Broadway



SW19 1NE

Farringdon Accountant

Better Space

127 Farringdon Road



How you appeal for a penalty is dependent on which type of penalty you are appealing. You can see a list of the required forms to appeal below: 

However, if you prefer submitting appeals by post you can do so using the following forms:

  • For self assessment penalties you are required to complete a SA370
  • Partnership for late return complete form SA371. (Note that only the nominated partner can appeal. 
  • Filing a late VAT return (provided you have a reasonable excuse)
  • Company tax return delayed by technology failure

You can submit these by sending them to the following address:
Self Assessment

HM Revenue and Customs


United Kingdom