HMRC publish new guidance on SAO penalties

Released 08 April 2021

HMRC have updated their Senior Accounting Officer Guidance Manual.

The updates (which include adding SAOG18850 and SAOG18875) follow the First-tier Tribunal decision in Castlelaw (No. 628) Ltd [2020] TC 07540, which highlighted several factors which HMRC should have considered when exercising their discretion to impose SAO penalties.

The guidance now explains that HMRC’s consideration of whether to assess penalties should include taking into account the nature of the failure, the level of tax risk, whether the failure is symptomatic of any underlying weakness in tax accounting arrangements, and overall compliance. The guidance also advises that a taxpayer can make representations to HMRC that they should exercise their discretion not to charge a penalty.

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