dog ate it

A top 10 countdown of the worst excuses given to HMRC for late tax returns

With a fast-approaching due date for Self-Assessment Tax Returns, some taxpayers can find themselves struggling to file their return on time. For many there is a genuine reason that they are struggling to meet the 31st January deadline. For others, their definition of ‘reasonable excuse’ is slightly more dubious, if not outright shameless (and hilarious!).

Below are the 10 worst excuses that HMRC have received from taxpayers over the years:

10) “The postman doesn’t deliver to my house.”

That must be really inconvenient! However, completing a Self-Assessment Tax Return puts the onus on you to contact HMRC – not the other way around. And if you know that you can’t receive post, you can simply request that all correspondence from HMRC comes by email.

9) “I will be abroad on deadline day with no internet access so will be unable to file.”

If you know that you are going abroad in advance, then it is your responsibility to manage your time in order to submit your return on time.

8) “My niece had moved in – she made the house so untidy I could not find my login details to complete my return online.”

Keeping your password on a piece of paper is a bad idea not just for scenarios like those above, but also for security.
HMRC have a service to help you recover login details, as well as a customer support team. Use the following link:

7) “I work for myself, but a colleague borrowed my tax return to photocopy it and lost it.”

This excuse is unfortunate proof that logical reasoning is a learned behaviour.

6) “I had an argument with my wife and went to Italy for 5 years.”

That must have been quite the argument! Unfortunately leaving the country does not allow you to leave behind your responsibilities.

5) “I’m too short to reach the post box.”

Thankfully, for the vertically challenged among us, it is possible to submit your Self-Assessment Tax Return online by the 31st January. Or, you could just go into the post office and hand your envelope to a member of staff…

4) “My boiler had broken, and my fingers were too cold to type.”

Gloves. Or go to the library.

3) “I was just too busy – my first maid left, my second maid stole from me, and my third maid was very slow to learn.”

If you can afford to hire a maid, then you can certainly afford to hire an accountant to manage all your tax affairs!

2) “My dog ate my tax return…and all of the reminders.”

Probably the most ubiquitous lie ever used, it takes a special level of commitment to try and pull off.

It’s hard to beat a classic. However, we had to give extra points for the creativity in coming up with an excuse of the supernatural variety. The worst excuse given to HMRC for a late tax return:

1) “My mother-in-law is a witch and put a curse on me.”

I’m sure many people can empathise.

While the above excuses were all summarily rejected by HMRC in the appeal process, HMRC do accept genuinely unforeseen and exceptional circumstances. For example, taxpayers who are affected by flooding at their premises, or their agents’ premises, are not asked to pay a penalty if their return is submitted without an unreasonable delay.

Angela MacDonald, HMRC Director General of Customer Service said “Help will always be provided for those who have a genuine excuse for not submitting their return on time. If you think you might miss the 31st January deadline, get in touch with us now – the earlier we’re contacted, the more we can help”.

For assistance with your Self-Assessment Tax Return, or for any other accounting needs, contact Stack & Jones Accountant on 01869 277973 for a free 1-hour consultation.

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