During your school days, you likely heard excuses along the lines of ‘the dog ate my homework’ or ‘my printer broke’ from a classmate who was attempting to avoid detention. But did you think the silly excuses ended at childhood? Well, think again. The HMRC recently revealed some peculiar explanations made by taxpayers for why they missed the tax return deadline. Below we disclose some of the most bizarre appeals made to the HMRC and guess what, ‘the dog ate my tax return’ is in there too (really!)


Top excuses for a tax return not submitted

Last year, there was a mixture of classic to eccentric excuses as to why people did not submit their tax returns in time. 840,000 people missed the cut-off point and the creative excuses came in waves. The selection below are just a few of the outlandish appeals genuinely used against HMRC penalties:

  • My tax return was on my yacht, which caught fire.
  • A wasp in my car caused me to have an accident and my tax return, which was inside, was destroyed.
  • My wife helps me with my tax return, but she had a headache for ten days.
  • My dog ate my tax return…and all of the reminders.
  • I couldn’t complete my tax return because my husband left me and took our accountant with him. I am currently trying to find a new accountant.
  • My child scribbled all over the tax return, so I wasn’t able to send it back.
  • I work for myself, but a colleague borrowed my tax return to photocopy it and lost it.
  • My husband told me the deadline was the 31 March.
  • My Internet connection failed.
  • The postman doesn’t deliver to my house
  • 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

The tax return submission deadline for 2018 is 31st January at midnight. Missing this deadline will incur a £100 fine and those who fail to complete the forms within three months will receive a daily penalty of £10 per day. This could add up to a maximum of £900!


Acceptable appeals

However, don’t panic, there are some appeals that the HMRC deems as acceptable reasons for missing a tax return deadline. For example:

  • Your partner or another close relative died shortly before the tax return or payment deadline.
  • You had an unexpected stay in hospital that prevented you from dealing with your tax affairs.
  • You had a serious or life-threatening illness.
  • Your computer or software failed just before or while you were preparing your online return.
  • Service issues with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) online services.
  • A fire, flood or theft prevented you from completing your tax return.
  • Postal delays that you couldn’t have predicted.
  • Delays related to a disability you have.

Nonetheless, you are expected to send your return or payment as soon as possible after your reasonable excuse is resolved.


Most obscure expenses attempted to be claimed

It doesn’t stop with the excuses though; the HMRC revealed some questionable items, which taxpayers have tried to claim as expenses. Including:

  • A three-piece suite for my partner to sit on when I’m doing my 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.

The HMRC wishes to remind taxpayers, that only genuine items related to a job can and will be accepted as expenses.


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