In a robust decision in the case of Partito Media Services Limited v HMRC TC1949 the Tribunal examined the validity of various penalty notices issued to the taxpayer.
These penalty cases are rarely of any general interest because they are specific to their facts, but in this case it is interesting that HMRC were seeking to impose a penalty on the company for failing to file a corporation tax return following the issue of a notice to file. However, the company had changed its registered office and HMRC had sent the notice to the old address and it had not been received by the company.
HMRC claimed that a penalty was due because the company had not informed HMRC of the change to their registered office. However, on their website HMRC clearly say that if a company changes its registered office:
"As soon as Companies House have updated their records they will advise HMRC about the change automatically. You don't need to tell HMRC separately."
It is therefore rather surprising that HMRC raised a series of penalties on the company on the grounds that the company had not advised HMRC of a change in their registered office.
For the notice to be validly served, it had to be sent to the last known registered office and as the notice was issued almost 5 months after the new address was logged onto the Companies House records, HMRC could not regard it as the latest known registered office, even if they had not adequately updated their records.
The only surprise here is how the penalty even came to be issued in the first place. It is virtually impossible to think of a fair or reasonable explanation for issuing a penalty on the grounds that a taxpayer had not notified HMRC of the change of their registered office when their public guidance specifically says it was unnecessary.