The worst excuses for late self-assessment tax returns revealed

15th January 2016

It’s just over a fortnight until the deadline for digital self-assessment tax returns for the 2014-15 financial year. HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) insists it will not accept spurious excuses for late filing; and the tax authority has released some of the most bizarre excuses for missing the 31st January deadline from UK taxpayers.

From broken kitchen appliances and starving pets to five-year long family arguments, the list suggests some taxpayers will go to the greatest of lengths to pass the buck for their poor timekeeping.

Ruth Owen, director general of personal tax, HMRC, 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 at 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 following 10 excuses have all been used in unsuccessful appeals against HMRC penalties for late tax returns:

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

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