Worst excuses for late tax returns – revealed

Messy nieces, infuriating spouses, and rats in the shed are among the howlers of excuses that taxpayers have tried to fob off the taxman with, due to filing self-assessment returns late.

Speaking ahead of the 31st January deadline – when 2014-15 tax returns must be filed by – the tax department said that “hungry pets” were also very unlikely to wash with its officials.

It was referring to ‘my dog ate my tax return’ - among the 10 worst excuses that late-filing taxpayers gave last year to HM Revenue & Customs, in a bid to get out of paying a penalty.

Also among them - ‘My tax papers were left in the shed and the rat ate them’; ‘My husband ran over my laptop’ and, ‘I had an argument with my wife and went to Italy for 5 years.’

The even more outlandish, ‘My niece moved in and made the house so untidy I could not find my log in details to complete my return online,’ made HMRC’s top 10 worst excuses too.

“Untidy family members and hungry pets are very unlikely to be accepted as a legitimate excuse for completing your tax return late,” warns HMRC’s Ruth Owen.

However, HMRC recognises that “life can be unpredictable,” and so will be waiving penalties for individuals affected by the UK’s recent flooding and severe weather.

“But for those who are trying to play the system, while the rest of us do the right thing, the message is clear: submit your tax return online by 31 January or face a fine,” Ms Owen said. “We’re here to help people in genuine distress, but not to act as a free lender to people who can’t meet their responsibilities to pay their tax.”

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Written by Simon Moore

Simon writes impartial news and engaging features for the contractor industry, covering, IR35, the loan charge and general tax and legislation.
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