The Tax Tribunal recently heard the case of Heronslea v HMRC which arose from a Construction Industry Scheme return due on 19 June 2010.
HMRC stated that it did not arrive until 22 June and therefore determined a late filing penalty of £100.
The company appealed the penalty informing HMRC the return was posted in good time to arrive on our before 19 June. The taxpayer stated that they posted the return first class on 14 June 2010, however they did not obtain proof of posting.
The Tribunal found that obtaining proof of posting was not a legislative requirement for the CIS return and that therefore “properly addressing, pre-paying and posting a letter containing the document….at the time at which the letter would be delivered in the ordinary course of post”, was acceptable unless HMRC could prove otherwise.
The tribunal heard that first class post normally arrives on the day after posting or the day after that, and therefore a letter posted first class on 14 June could be expected to arrive by 16 June – three days before the deadline.
Despite the outcome of the case, it would appear to be prudent to obtain proof of posting where possible given HMRC’s apparent aggressive stance. Perhaps a posting book or recorded delivery, especially if a deadline is looming.