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Top 10 worst tax return excuses

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Ahead of the 31 January 16 deadline to file Self Assessment tax returns, HMRC has released the ‘Top 10 worst tax return excuses’ from 2014.  Although HMRC will be sympathetic to genuine excuses revealed ahead of the deadline (to avoid penalties afterwards), these ones just won’t do…

From broken kitchen appliances, hungry pets and arguments that last five years – some people will stop at nothing to pass the blame for their tardy timekeeping. Some of the excuses submitted included:

  1. My tax papers were left in the shed and the rat ate them
  2. I’m not a paperwork orientated person – I always relied on my sister to complete my returns but we have now fallen out
  3. My accountant has been ill
  4. My dog ate my tax return
  5. I will be abroad on deadline day with no internet access so will be unable to file
  6. My laptop broke, so did my washing machine
  7. My niece had moved in – she made the house so untidy I could not find my log in details to complete my return online
  8. My husband ran over my laptop
  9. I had an argument with my wife and went to Italy for 5 years
  10. I had a cold which took a long time to go

The excuses were all used in unsuccessful appeals against HMRC penalties for late returns.

While HMRC will not accept spurious excuses when the vast majority hit the deadline and pay up what they owe, we do recognise that a number taxpayers may have difficulties completing their tax return on time. For instance, those affected by flooding at their premises, or their agents’ premises, will not be asked to pay a penalty if their return is submitted without unreasonable delay. The department has also opened a Tax Helpline to give practical help and advice to people affected by severe weather and flooding – 0800 904 7900.

Ruth Owen, HMRC Director General of Personal Tax, said:

Untidy family members and hungry pets are very unlikely to be accepted as a legitimate excuse for completing your tax return late.

We understand that life can be unpredictable and for those customers who have a genuine excuse for missing the 31 January deadline, such as the flooding, help is on hand. My advice would be to contact us through our helplines or online, as soon as possible. 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. 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.

The deadline for sending 2014-15 tax returns to HMRC, and paying any tax owed, is 31 January 2016.

If you are submitting your 2014-15 Self Assessment return online for the first time, you will need to register for SA Online. Registering for online filing is simple – you can do it at online.hmrc.gov.uk/registration.

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Comments 2

1 February 2016 Reply

I don’t pay tax my name’s Google

1 February 2016 Reply

…or maybe even Facebook! #justsaying

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