The taxpayer in question was a partnership operating as a bar and dining establishment, who genuinely believed that they had submitted their online tax return within HMRC’s deadline. They were rather surprised therefore, when they received a penalty notification from HMRC for not having filed their tax return at all.
The taxpayer believed they had submitted their return as usual and within the deadline, having received no message from HMRC that it had been rejected. They did not receive an acceptance message either, but did not realise the significance of this at the time and so were unaware that there was an issue until they received the letter from HMRC.
After being alerted to the situation they submitted their return relatively quickly, but the penalty for this delay, plus the previous delay before being informed of their late submission, totalled £800.
An investigation into the matter revealed that there had been an error in the online submission process, which stated that it would send the taxpayer a message if the tax return was either successful or rejected. However, it did not mention that if no message was received at all, the taxpayer should contact HMRC to see if there was a problem and so this formed the basis of the taxpayer’s appeal.
The appeal was allowed becaues it was evident that there was a reasonable excuse for the late filing of the tax return. The taxpayer had shown that they were honest and had intended to pay their tax bill, which had been proven by their prompt payment of the tax that they owed. The outcome was that the error was HMRC's mistake and the penalties were discharged.