Ok, so spoken to a client in the last couple of days who tell me they sold their second home (never their main residence) in the first lockdown. Going back through records I can see that they did put a sentence to this effect in an email about 8 weeks after the sale.
The thing was this was in July, and it was one sentence in an email which was mainly about SEISS. With everything going on, I did not pick up on it and answered the other points in their email but it passed me by. Obviously I should have picked this up at the time.
Speaking to the client they think there will either be a very small gain but most likely a loss on sale.
The return will now be more than six months late and as it is a joint property, there will be late filing penalties of £400 each so £800. This is more than I charge the couple in a year ordinarily.
First question, is there any chance of getting the penalty suspended? Presumably not if it was a one-off transaction? (They do have another property to which it will apply in the next couple of years) but we can hardly claim its a systematic problem which we can fix.
I am struggling to think of a reasonable excuse, they had to work from home and home-school young kids due to COVID but I am assuming that will make no difference.
Am I missing another way to avoid the penalties?
Finally, presuming we can't get it suspended at all, do I end up having to pay the penalties for them? It would be galling to think missing one sentence in an email has cost me £800 but it may be the only way? Or do I offer to pay the £300 each over 6 months penalty as it would have been over 30 days late anyway? What do people think?