HMRC reveals worst excuses for missing tax return deadline

6th January 2015

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has published its ten worst excuses received from taxpayers for missing the 31st January self-assessment tax return deadline.

With the deadline for online tax returns looming at the end of the month for the 2013-14 tax year, HMRC opted to reveal the most bizarre responses which were used by people as part of unsuccessful appeals against HMRC penalties for late filing and payment.

The vast majority of the excuses claim their inability to file a tax return on-time was someone else’s fault, citing girlfriends, pets, work colleagues and even the President of the United States is mentioned.



The full list is as follows:

  • “My pet dog ate my tax return… and all the reminders”.

  • “I was up a mountain in Wales and couldn’t find a postbox or get an internet signal”.

  • “I fell in with the wrong crowd”.

  • “I’ve been travelling the world, trying to escape from a foreign intelligence agency”.

  • “Barack Obama is in charge of my finances”.

  • “I’ve been busy looking after a flock of escaped parrots and some fox cubs”.

  • “A work colleague borrowed my tax return, to photocopy it, and didn’t give it back”.

  • “I live in a camper van in a supermarket car park”.

  • “My girlfriend’s pregnant”.

  • “I was in Australia”.

Ruth Owen, director general of personal tax, HMRC, said: “People can have a genuine excuse for missing a tax deadline, but owning a pet with a taste for HMRC envelopes isn’t one of them.

“You need to file your 2013/14 tax return online, and pay what you owe, by 31 January.

“But it’s best to do it now, to allow plenty of time to sort out any issues with your return. That way, you’ll avoid the busy period for our phone lines as the deadline approaches.”

Up to 11.2 million people are expected to fill out a tax return for the 2013/14 tax year, with instant penalties for tax returns submitted after 31st January of £100, which applies even if there is no tax to pay or if the tax due is paid on time.

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