A partnership’s ‘paper’ (i.e. non-electronic) tax return was held to have been submitted before the  statutory filing deadline, despite HM Revenue and Customs contending that the return had been filed late  and seeking penalties for its late submission.

The appellant partnership’s tax return for 2010/11 was filed non-electronically. It was received by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) on 11 September 2012 and processed on 19 September 2012.

HMRC issued late filing penalties (under FA 2009, Sch 55), on the basis that the appellant’s tax return for 2010/11 was required to have been filed on 31 October 2011. The appellant appealed, on the basis, it was not accepted that the return had been filed late.

The First-tier Tribunal (FTT) noted that the return was dated 26 October 2011. The FTT accepted, on the balance of probabilities, that it had been filed non­ electronically before 31 October 2011. A copy of the return, certified by the appellant’s agents and verified as delivered to HMRC on 26 October 2011, was submitted as evidence, which the FTT accepted.

The FTT noted that there had been a dispute between the appellant and HMRC concerning the late filing of the partnership’s tax return for the tax years 2008/09 and 2009/10. Copies of the completed returns, bearing the stamp of the agents, were produced by the appellant. The return for 2008/09 was completed non-electronically and dated 30 October 2009. The return for 2009/10 was also completed non-electronically and dated 27 October 2010. The return for each of those earlier years appeared to the FTT to have been accepted by HMRC.

The FTT decided it was highly improbable that the appellant’s agents would have failed to submit the partnership’s tax returns for 2008/09, 2009/10 and 2010/11, particularly when the firm had confirmed to the appellant that each return had been filed by the due date. Furthermore, there was evidence, in the opinion of the FTT, that the appellant had questioned the agents about the filing of each return at the relevant time, and that the agents had sufficient time to file by the due date.

In addition, the FTT was not satisfied that HMRC had demonstrated that its procedures for recording receipt of a return were sufficiently robust to prevent an administrative failure in processing the partnership tax return for 2010/11. The appellant’s appeal was allowed.


Englefield (t/a Englefield Carpenters) v Revenue and Customs [2017] UKFTT 247 (TC)