By Lynne Gowers on 22nd July 2016

Worst ever excuses for late tax returns

Now that we are approaching the end of the first quarter of the new tax year, it’s time to start thinking about your tax return for the 2015/2016 year.
It’s not panic stations yet (see this year’s deadlines), so here’s a light-hearted look at some of the worst ever excuses people have given HMRC for filing their tax returns late. These are 100% genuine!

  • 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.
  • My pet dog ate my tax return…and all the reminders.
  • Barack Obama is in charge of my finances.
  • I’ve been busy looking after a flock of escaped parrots and some fox cubs.
  • My pet goldfish died.
  • After seeing a volcanic eruption on the news, I couldn’t think of anything else.
  • I live in a camper van in a supermarket car park.
  • My husband told me the deadline was March 31st and I believed him.
  • I was in Australia.
  • My bad back means I can’t go upstairs and that’s where my tax return is.
  • A work colleague borrowed my tax return to photocopy it, and didn’t give it back.
  • I had a run-in with a cow.

Needless to say none of these excuses cut any mustard, and according to HMRC, all found themselves on the end of a hefty fine. But while HMRC may not be hugely sympathetic on the demise of your pet goldfish, they are not heartless. If you have a “reasonable excuse” for filing or paying late, you can appeal for an extension.
This is normally something unforeseen or beyond your control, for example a serious fire, postal delays or an unexpected stay in hospital. However HMRC are unlikely to class insufficient funds, lack of a reminder letter or difficulty using the online system as acceptable excuses for late tax returns.

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Written by Lynne Gowers
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