“My tax return was on my yacht…which caught fire” is no excuse, says HMRC

Each year HMRC receives a number of unusual excuses from Self Assessment customers who didn’t complete their tax return on time.

These include:

  • “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”

The reasons above were all used in unsuccessful appeals against HMRC penalties for late returns.

“Ruth Owen, HMRC Director General of Customer Services, said: “Blaming the postman, arguing with family members and pesky insects – it’s easy to see that some excuses for not completing a tax return on time can be more questionable than others. Luckily, it’s only a small minority who chance their arm.

“But there will always be help and support available for those who have a genuine excuse for not submitting their return on time. If you think you might miss the 31 January deadline, get in touch with us now – the earlier we’re contacted, the better.”

The deadline for sending 2015-16 Self Assessment tax returns to HMRC, and paying any tax owed, is 31 January 2017.

Self Assessment customers can now also submit their return via their Personal Tax Account, it takes five minutes to sign up for an account: www.gov.uk/personal-tax-account