Covid related excuse for late tax returns

HMRC has confirmed that tax agents and accountants will be able to send bulk appeals against late filing penalties for tax returns filed after 28th February due to reasonable Covid related excuses.

In January 2021, HMRC announced that late filing penalty notices would not be issued to anyone who was unable to file their 2020/21 self-assessment tax return by 31st January. However, this was on the proviso that the return was completed by the end of February. Despite this extension, over one million taxpayers still missed the deadline.

However, HMRC have advised that they understand the difficulties faced by some individuals, businesses, and their agents in meeting their filing obligations this year. This means that they may be willing to accept Covid as a reasonable excuse for any appeals made against a self-assessment late filing penalty.

How will the appeals process work?

Agents representing individuals and businesses who have not been able to file by 28th February because of the impact of Covid will be able to complete a bulk appeals form. Agents will be able to submit 25 appeals per batch.

Agents can use the bulk appeals process, which will be available on, to record details of their clients’ appeals.

To ensure the appeals are processed correctly, agents must ensure the following has been done:

  • Each bulk form can only be used for a maximum of 25 clients. Further forms can be submitted for additional clients.
  • Bulk appeals forms must be sent to HMRC using the above address and if multiple forms are completed, these should be sent in separate envelopes.
  • All fields on the form should be completed for each client – without this, HMRC will not process the appeal for that client.
  • This form must only be used where the tax return was not filed by 28th February 2022 due to Covid-19. If the penalty is subject to appeal on other grounds, please use existing channels.

Individual appeals can still be completed via or by post – the postal route is for bulk appeals only. Appeals completed on behalf of one client should be filed using the traditional SA370 form or filed online. If an agent is processing an appeal for a high-net-worth unit case, this should be submitted via the government website and should not be included on the bulk appeals form.

Please be mindful that this service is only for a Covid related reasonable excuse. HMRC reserve the right to carry out random checks to ensure the validity of the data or to seek further clarification as to the exact nature of the Covid related reasonable excuse.

Once completed, the form should be posted to the following address: Bulk Agent Appeals, HM Revenue and Customs, BX9 1ZH.

The process will be available for appeals made against 2020/21 late filing penalties for self-assessment taxpayers, between 9th March and 6th May.

As always, if you would like any further information regarding the above, please feel free to contact our offices by email