ĎA rat ate my tax returní: 10 terrible excuses sent to HMRC


18th January 2016

With the deadline looming for self-assessment tax returns those who don’t have all their accounts in order will likely be panicking, and may be trying to think of a worthy excuse for submitting their return late - after the January 31st deadline!

Unfortunately for those people, HMRC really have heard them all and won’t accept just any excuse. It seems that the tax authority is so fed up with receiving farfetched excuses they have issued a list of the all time worst reasons for late submission. Read the shocking list of excuses below:

1. My tax papers were left in the shed and my rat ate them

2. I’m not a paperwork-oriented 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 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 login 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

Believe it or not, these excuses were actually used in appeals against HMRC penalties for late returns. Unsurprisingly, all 10 were declined on the basis that they were either untrue or not good enough reasons.

Last year, HMRC announced that it would take a fairer approach to those with genuine excuses as tax inspectors focus their penalties on larger, deliberate tax evaders rather than ordinary people. HMRC will be accepting reasonable excuses up front before the deadline to avoid penalties after the deadline.

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 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 deadline for sending 2014-15 tax returns to HMRC, and paying any tax owed, is 31 January 2016. If you are having any difficulties with this or wish to seek advice please don’t hesitate to contact us or give us a call on 0114 272 6789.


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