Worst excuses for missing tax deadline revealed by HMRC

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Created January 19th, 2018 by Alex Watts

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) have released their annual list of the worst excuses people have given for non-submission of their tax return and this year there were some particularly imaginative and bizarre examples.

The list has been released in advance of the deadline for filing tax returns online at the end of January and includes some seriously out-of-the-box excuses like blaming vertigo and claiming a significant other had a close encounter with aliens.

Close encounter

According to the Telegraph, the imaginative customer who blamed missing the deadline on strange creatures from outer space, claimed “I couldn’t file my return on time as my wife has been seeing aliens and won’t let me enter the house.”

It’s a bold one, although it’s definitely more creative than the more simplistic “my business doesn’t really do anything” which was also given as an excuse.

The deadline for sending 2016-17 Self Assessment tax returns to HMRC, and paying any tax owed, is January 31.

Get in touch with HRMC

Angela MacDonald, HMRC director general of customer services, said that people should get in touch if they are having trouble: “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.

“If you think you might miss the 31 January deadline, get in touch with us now – the earlier we’re contacted, the more help we can offer.”

The items taxpayers attempted to list as expenses were also unusual, including eating the exact same meal for 250 days, veterinary fees for a rabbit and birthday drinks at a nightclub.

The top five failed excuses for late tax returns released by HMRC:

1. I couldn’t file my return on time as my wife has been seeing aliens and won’t let me enter the house

2. I’ve been far too busy touring the country with my one-man play

3. My ex-wife left my tax return upstairs, but I suffer from vertigo and can’t go upstairs to retrieve it

4. My business doesn’t really do anything

5. I spilt coffee on it

The top five failed expenses claims for late tax returns released by HMRC:

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

2. Birthday drinks at a Glasgow nightclub

3. Vet fees for a rabbit

4. Hotel room service – for candles and prosecco

5. £4.50 for sausage and chips meal expenses for 250 days


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