Belfast Telegraph

Taxpayers' reasonable excuse

Question: I have a self-employed bookkeeper who looks after our company employer's annual returns every year.

This year she submitted the company P35 online on May 16 and emailed me to confirm this fact. I then received a late filing penalty of £100 stating the Employer Annual Return had not been submitted by May 19, 2011. I rang the contact number and they stated that the online submission had not been accepted. Do we have grounds for appeal?

Sinead Mullan, Sole Practitioner, Mullan & Co Chartered Accountants, Castledawson.

Answer: Yes, I believe you do have grounds for appeal. There have been a number of cases brought to tribunal where reasonable excuse decisions were made in favour of the taxpayer. In the case of Leachman v HMRC (2011), this taxpayer was fined for failing to file a P35 under the mistaken belief that his accountant would do so. The tribunal ruled that a genuine mistake can constitute a "reasonable excuse". Although your circumstances are somewhat different, I would appeal on the grounds that a genuine mistake occurred in that your bookkeeper believed the return was submitted and confirmed this to you.