Accountingweb, in an interesting article, reports that according to a recent Freedom of Information request, there were 13 tax penalties for deliberate behaviour and 3,208 for failure to take reasonable care in relation to self-assessment returns in 2010-2011.
In 2001-2012 the figures rose to 49 and 9,315 respectively. Figures for reasonable excuse are not available, but the published tax tribunal decisions show that such penalties are increasingly common.
Therefore, in the opinion of George Rowell (a barrister at St John’s Chambers specialising in tax disputes), the concept of reasonableness lies at the heart of the new penalty system.
However, the penalty legislation has only a partial definition of reasonableness.
It does not include:
- Insufficiency of funds unless the insufficiency is attributable to events outside the taxpayer’s control, or
- Reliance upon a third party, unless the taxpayer themselves still took reasonable care in relation to his own acts and omissions
As to matters outwith the above, case law and HMRC guidance need to be relied upon.
Tax does have to be taxing.
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