Death and taxes are famously inevitable but the collection of revenue can sometimes be tinged with mercy. In one case, a carer who was coping with the loss of both her parents when her self-assessment tax return was due was excused from having to pay £1,300 in late submission penalties.
The self-employed therapist and counsellor had for several years looked after her mother, who had suffered a series of strokes, and her father, who had bowel cancer. The couple died within months of each other and, when she received a notice requiring her to file her tax return, she was in the midst of her bereavement and struggling to sort out their affairs whilst at the same time making a living.
In the circumstances, she missed the final date for filing her tax return by almost eight months and was issued with the penalties. HM Revenue and Customs refused to waive them on the basis that she had managed to run her business during her time of trial and it was her responsibility to deal with her tax affairs efficiently.
In upholding her appeal, however, the First-tier Tribunal found that she had a reasonable excuse for the delay in filing her return. Caring for her suffering and dying parents had taken up every minute of her time that was not devoted to her clients. Once she had managed to get her parents’ affairs in order, she had swiftly taken control of her own paperwork. The penalties were overturned.