Vet wins late filing penalty appeal

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A vet has won an appeal against a tax penalty after a tribunal ruled that a sudden deterioration in his accountant's health was a reasonable excuse for being late submitting his PAYE return.

In the case Peter Collins and HM Revenue and Customs, TC03606, Collins appealed against two penalties totaling £600 for a 2011 PAYE return.

Collins's accountant and friend, Mr G. Marley, had suffered poor health from 2004 and his health sharply deteriorated in the period before the PAYE return was due. Marley died a few years later.

The tribunal received a copy of a medical report from Marley's doctor which, confirmed that in May 2011 Marley had been admitted to hospital, required a blood transfusion and heart treatment and later developed renal impairment. 

Marley's doctor said he became confused and he was advised that he was not fit to be working. In the meantime, Collins's return for the tax year end April 2011 was not filed.

Collins argued that it was reasonable for him to rely on his accountant, citing a previous similar tribunal case in 2013 (Maxwell v HMRC), and another one also involving Marley's practice.

HMRC told the tribunal that it is the employer's statutory responsibility to ensure that a PAYE return is submitted.  It said Collins was aware of Marley's but suggested that their friendship meant Collins carried on using Marley as his...

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About Nick Huber

Nick Huber profile image

I’m a specialist business journalist and have a particular interest in tax and technology. 


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13th Jun 2014 05:39

similar to my case

In 2010 I got 20 or so new clients due to the sudden death of a local accountant in April.  One came to me in September when she had been hit with £800 for late end of year submissions.

SIX different HMRC people over the next year or so ruled that the sudden death of your accountant in the middle of the year-end season is not a reasonable excuse for late filing.  Every letter I sent went within a week of their letter.  Every reply took at least one month and in some cases three months.  The final one reduced the fine to £250 or so.

In the end I thought, "The Hell with HMRC, it's clear their various appeal levels are an utter sham."

I filed Tribunal papers.  Less than TWO WEEKS later HMRC tossed their hand in and all the fines were quashed.

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13th Jun 2014 10:07


The key point for me is that HMRC accepted it as a reasonable excuse in other cases. Presumably their differentiation argument went "but this man would know better than ordinary clients how unwell Mr Marley was", thus claiming he would be aware Mr Marley may not have been up to the job. That is bringing a ludicrous element of judgement into what should be a clear distinction, and I'm glad it has been thrown out. Either Mr Marley was a professional people could rely on, or he wasn't.

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