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Late tax return penalty notice

Have you received a late tax return penalty notice from HMRC which you do not understand? Here we have an example of a penalty letter from HMRC and we explain in more detail what the letter is telling you. Just click on any of the areas in red text for more detailed information. 

Our decision tree can help you decide what your next steps should be if you are not sure.

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.

If you are not sure what to do next try answering the questions on our question and answer decision tree on what to do when you receive a penalty notice.


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.

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The due date for filing the tax return depends on whether it is a paper return or an online return. Check the filing deadline on our section ‘When do I have to send my tax return to 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.

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

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If you still need to file the tax return you should do so as soon as possible. You should also consider whether you have grounds to appeal against the penalty. Read our guidance on this.

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