Excuses, excuses: HMRC reveals top late tax return apologies

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has once again revealed the worst excuses that taxpayers have given them for failing to meet the 31 January Self-Assessment (SA) deadline.

Whilst there are sometimes reasonable excuses for a late submission, such as a serious illness, disability or a serious mental health condition that makes a person incapable of filing their tax return, others can be imaginative.

HMRC’s most recent list of top excuses, includes:

  • I couldn’t file my return on time as my wife has been seeing aliens and won’t let me enter the house.
  • I’ve been far too busy touring the country with my one-man play.
  • My ex-wife left my tax return upstairs, but I suffer from vertigo and can’t go upstairs to retrieve it.
  • My business doesn’t really do anything.
  • I spilt coffee on it.

As well as the excuses, HMRC also receives some questionable expense claims including:

  • A three-piece suite for a partner to sit on when the taxpayer is doing their accounts.
  • Birthday drinks at a Glasgow nightclub.
  • Vet fees for a rabbit.
  • Hotel room service – for candles and prosecco.
  • £4.50 for sausage and chips meal expenses for 250 days (£1,125 in total).

Angela MacDonald, HMRC Director General of Customer Services, 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, whether that’s blaming a busy touring schedule or seeing aliens.

“However, help will always be provided for those who have a genuine excuse for not submitting their return on time.

“We also receive absurd expense claims from vet fees for a rabbit to room service at a hotel. It is unfair to make honest taxpayers pick up the bill for other people’s spurious claims, so HMRC will only accept sincere claims such as legitimate expenses for a job.”

The deadline for sending 2016-17 SA tax returns to HMRC, and paying any tax owed, was 31 January 2018.

Those who may have missed the deadline may find that they have already received an automatic £100 fine, but the longer a tax return is left the more the penalties can increase, so it pays to act quickly and get professional advice if a return is submitted after the deadline.

Link: HMRC’s top tax return excuses

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