The taxpayer filed his 2013-14 and 2014-15 self-assessment tax returns late so HMRC imposed penalties. He appealed, claiming he had not received various documents from HMRC. The taxpayer had been self-employed until August 2013; after that he worked as an employee. He had completed self-assessment returns when in self-employment but believed all his tax would be taken care of under PAYE after he was employed. In February 2014, he moved, told his employer his new address and assumed that, because he received documents such as P60s there, HMRC knew of the address. He moved again in July 2016 and, because of a tax code query, told the Revenue his new address in September 2017. In the meantime, HMRC had sent notices to file and penalties to the taxpayer’s old address.
The First-tier Tribunal noted that, after the taxpayer received his statement of account showing the penalties, he contacted HMRC ‘relatively quickly’. The judge said a taxpayer has a duty to notify the Revenue of a change of address. However, a newly employed person having completed a P46 and told their employer of the new address, as was the case here, might assume HMRC’s records would be updated. The taxpayer was therefore unaware that he should file returns and, given that he was receiving P60s, would have assumed ‘with good reason’ that HMRC knew his address. Equally, the Revenue had not received change of address details from him, but should have received them from the employer.
The judge said a reasonable excuse could be described ‘as an unexpected or unusual event, either unforeseeable or beyond the person’s control’ which prevented them complying with an obligation they otherwise would have. The taxpayer’s circumstances fell within this description. He had a reasonable excuse for filing his 2013-14 and 2014-15 returns late and dealt with them speedily when he became aware of the problem.
The taxpayer’s appeal was allowed.
O Wincott (TC6919)