As the tax return deadline approaches HMRC reveal the worst ever tax excuses

With the deadline for online tax returns fast approaching (31st January 2016 for the tax year April 2014 – April 2015), HMRC have again shared their top ten terrible tax excuses. Ranging from paperwork eating pets to people who were simply out of the country, the list is comprised completely of unsuccessful appeals against penalties imposed by HMRC.

Whilst the list might be a bit of an attempt by the taxman to show that he does have a sense of humour, there is a serious message behind the publication. HMRC take filing deadlines very seriously and if you miss the online cut off of January 31st (the offline cut off has already passed in October 2015) then it is likely that you will be issued with a penalty. You can appeal to HMRC against any penalties but, as the list shows, the taxman typically takes a dim view of all but the most compelling of excuses. The HMRC list in full is;

  • My pet dog ate my tax return…and all the reminders.
  • I was up a mountain in Wales and couldn’t find a postbox or get an internet signal.
  • I fell in with the wrong crowd.
  • I’ve been travelling the world, trying to escape from a foreign intelligence agency.
  • Barack Obama is in charge of my finances.
  • I’ve been busy looking after a flock of escaped parrots and some fox cubs.
  • A work colleague borrowed my tax return to photocopy it and didn’t give it back.
  • I live in a camper van in a supermarket car park.
  • My girlfriend’s pregnant.
  • I was in Australia.

As you can see from the list, HMRC have covered a lot of the potential excuses which might be used in appeals, including outside influence and being out of the country!

Speaking about the list when it was originally published in January 2015, HMRC Director General of Personal Tax, Ruth Owen, said:

‘People can have a genuine excuse for missing a tax deadline, but owning a pet with a taste for HMRC envelopes isn’t one of them.

You need to file your [2014/15] tax return online, and pay what you owe, by 31 January [2016]. But it’s best to do it now, to allow plenty of time to sort out any issues with your return. That way, you’ll avoid the busy period for our phone lines as the deadline approaches.’

If you are uncertain about completing your tax return, or would like help with any aspect of tax planning which you think may affect your submission, then please do feel free to contact us. We’ll make sure we help you to avoid becoming an entrant on HMRC’s list of excuses next year!