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Late tax return penalty notice

HMRC have sent you a late tax return notice of penalty assessment, sometimes called a ‘penalty notice’. You have received this notice from HMRC because they have asked you to complete a self assessment tax return and either they have received it late or have not yet received it at all. Do not ignore this notice, you must decide what action you now need to take.

There are many reasons why you may need to fill in a tax return for HMRC. Although one of the most common reasons is when you are self employed, there are many other circumstances when it is also necessary. Use the tool on GOV.UK to see whether you need to file a tax return or check out the criteria for self assessment.

An example of a penalty notice letter can be found below (click on download if it hasn't appeared automatically), this includes notes about what the sections mean - please note that the links in the notes will take you to an external website.

For mobile users who do not have the PDF plugin or those who wish to print this document, we provide a separate annotated Self Assessment: Late tax return – Notice of penalty assessment.

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This is the tax return to which the penalty relates. If you have already filed this tax return you need to check whether or not you filed it by the deadline. If you have not yet filed the return you should do so as soon as possible to minimise any further penalties being charged. If you don't need to complete a tax return contact HMRC.


The due date for filing the tax return depends on whether it is a paper return or an online return. Check the filing deadline with HMRC. If you did file the return on time you must contact HMRC and explain this and try to find out why they have issued a penalty notice.


This is the amount of the fine. Check it is correct. If you think it is incorrect, contact HMRC and explain why.


If the penalty is correct you will need to make arrangements to pay the amount on the penalty notice as soon as possible. If you are unable to pay, please read further advice here. You should also file the tax return if you have not already done so.

What to do next

If you think you have grounds to make an appeal against the penalty, then follow this guidance.