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A response to a freedom of information request has revealed that HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) cancelled 270,000 late penalty notices in 2016.
However, this figure was dwarfed by the 610,000 cancellations in 2015 and the 400,000 cancellations in 2014.
The request was made by a partner in a ‘magic circle’ law firm, who was himself issued with a late penalty notice, despite having submitted his tax return in December, ahead of the 31 January deadline.
Despite having filed on time, when HMRC overturned the penalty in March this year, it nevertheless issued a letter, stating “if you file on time we won’t charge penalties”.
While HMRC revealed the number of late penalty notices that were cancelled over the three-year period, it did not disclose how many of these were the consequence of errors on the part of the Revenue, as opposed to the taxpayer having a reasonable excuse for late filing.
A spokesperson for HMRC said: “We don’t want penalties, we just want tax returns. Taxpayers with a reasonable excuse for filing late or who have been taken out of SA do not have to pay penalties. Taxpayers who file on time are not issued with penalties.”