Top 10 fanciful excuses for late tax returns

Ahead of the January 31st cut-off for 2015-16 self-assessors, the taxman has disclosed 10 excuses for missing the deadline that definitely won’t be accepted.

Ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous, the excuses feature some old favourites -- the hungry dog and the errant postman, and new ones like a rogue colleague and a pesky wasp.

The full top ten, all of which were used in the last tax year in unsuccessful appeals against HMRC penalties for late tax returns, is below:


1. ‘A wasp in my car caused me to have an accident and my tax return, which was inside, was destroyed’

2. ‘I work for myself, but a colleague borrowed my tax return to photocopy it and lost it'

3. ‘My dog ate my tax return…and all of the reminders’

4. ‘The postman doesn’t deliver to my house’

5. ‘My tax return was on my yacht…which caught fire’

6. ‘My wife helps me with my tax return, but she had a headache for ten days’

7. ‘I couldn’t complete my tax return, because my husband left me and took our accountant with him. I am currently trying to find a new accountant’

8. ‘My child scribbled all over the tax return, so I wasn’t able to send it back’

9. ‘My husband told me the deadline was the 31 March’

10. ‘My internet connection failed’

Referring to the list, the Revenue’s director-general of customer services acknowledged that some excuses for missing the tax return deadline were “more questionable than others.”

Ruth Owen also said: “Luckily, it’s only a small minority who chance their arm.

“But there will always be help and support available for those who have a genuine excuse for not submitting their return on time. If you think you might miss the 31 January deadline, get in touch with us now - the earlier we’re contacted, the better.”

Owen’s comments coincide with HMRC saying it intends to treat those with genuine excuses for missing the deadline “leniently,” as opposed to individuals who “persistently fail” to comply with their tax obligations.

But not only must the excuse be “reasonable” (seven are pre-approved), taxpayers must also be ready to provide evidence to avoid it being deemed either “untrue” or “not good enough.”

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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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