Excuses of a third kind! Taxpayers fob off HMRC with alien encounters

If in space no one can hear you scream, one taxpayer hoped that on earth, the taxman can’t detect your lies -- if they’re EXTRATERRESTRIAL.

He told HM Revenue & Customs: “I couldn’t file my return on time as my wife has been seeing aliens, and won’t let me enter the house.”

It features on the list of absolute howlers kept by HMRC as the reasons taxpayers have given in the last year for failing to file a tax return on time.

Like the previous year, blaming spouses was a theme. “My ex-wife left my tax return upstairs, but I suffer from vertigo and can’t go upstairs to retrieve it,” attempted one taxpayer.

Another used their significant other to justify an expense -- that HMRC disallowed -- for, “A three-piece suite for my partner to sit on, when I’m doing my accounts.”

Other expenses the Revenue rejected, once it stopped chuckling to itself – ‘Vet fees for a rabbit,’ and ‘Birthday drinks at a Glasgow nightclub.’

Another taxpayer who tried to have a tipple on the taxman submitted a claim for ‘Hotel room service – for candles and prosecco.’

Items off a cafe's day menu were equally rejected -- notably a claim for ‘£4.50 for sausage and chips meal expenses for 250 days.’ And from a self-assessor trying to dodge a fine for his return, “I spilt coffee on it.”

Angela MacDonald of HMRC said: “Each year we’re making it easier and more intuitive for our customers to complete their tax return, but each year we still come across some questionable excuses”.

She added that “help will always be provided for those who have a genuine excuse for not submitting their return on time,” although she said the earlier HMRC is contacted, the better.

But it’s not always possible. A late tax returner explained, albeit in vain -- “I’ve been far too busy touring the country with my one-man play.”

The opposite of busy doesn't work either in justifying to HMRC why a company hasn't filed: “My business doesn’t really do anything,” chanced the owner.

“It is unfair to make honest taxpayers pick up the bill for other people’s spurious claims”, McDonald said. “[But] if you think you might miss the 31st January deadline, get in touch with us now.”

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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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