With every annual Self Assessment deadline, HMRC releases some of the unusual and outlandish excuses they receive for late tax return submissions. They also reveal some of the more brazen expense claims self-assessors have attempted to submit. Regardless of how amusing these entrants may be, HMRC holds its stance that these eccentric excuses and claims will be rejected.


The tax man won’t waive your late penalty if you think your mother-in-law is a witch

Yes, you read that right. It was revealed that one taxpayer, requested clemency for forgetting to file his tax return form in time because, “My mother-in-law is a witch, and put a curse on me.” Unsurprisingly, this excuse did not fly with HMRC (excuse the pun.)

Other late submitters opted for the sympathy card, from one claiming, “I’m too short to reach the post box” to another bemoaning that, “My boiler had broken, and my fingers were too cold to type.”

One accountant decided to point the finger, for late tax return submissions – which we all know doesn’t win many fans – stating, “Our junior member of staff registered our client in self-assessment by mistake…because they were not wearing their glasses.”

While another taxpayer blamed their maids (yes really), “I was just too busy – my first maid left, my second maid stole from me, and my third maid was very slow to learn.”


HMRC won’t give leniency to these “weird and wonderful” excuses

HMRC’s Angela MacDonald asserted that no matter how “weird and wonderful” these excuses may be, they were “unfair” to the majority of honest taxpayers. Consequently, vowing that HMRC “will treat those with genuine excuses leniently, as we focus our penalties on those who persistently fail to complete their tax returns. […] The excuse must be genuine and we might ask for evidence. Those listed above were all declined on the basis that they were either untrue or not good enough reasons.”


“Extra-woolly” underwear is clearly a business expense, right?

Although, it wasn’t just ridiculous late-submission excuses that caught HMRC’s eye. There were also some bold and extravagant purchases contractors attempted to claim as business expenses. One taxpayer tried to claim a family trip to Nigeria as an expense, while another attempted to claim “£756 for my pet dog insurance.” Another submission was for £40 worth of “extra-woolly” underwear. All of these were of course rejected by HMRC.

Meanwhile, there were certain taxpayers who endeavoured to justify their outlandish expense claims as necessary for their work. A carpenter submitted a claim for a 55-inch TV and sound bar costing a whopping £900 with the rationale that it would “help him price his jobs”. On a similar note, one taxpayer submitted a music subscription on the basis, “so I can listen to music while I work”. Nonetheless, despite their spirited excuses, the taxman also rejected these.


A final word of warning…

These claims and excuses were released by HMRC to deter taxpayers from trying the same thing before the 31st January tax deadline. Outlandish expense claims won’t be accepted nor will dubious and bizarre excuses for late tax return submissions, no matter how whimsical they may be.


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