With Tax Return Time Come the Excuses

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As the 2017 Self-Assessment tax return deadline looms closer, HMRC have published a whimsical yet timely reminder to taxpayers to file their return by 31st January otherwise face a £100 penalty. Whilst the Revenue have said they will be lenient towards those who file late but have a genuine reason that prevented them from doing so, flimsy excuses will not cut the mustard.

Each year HMRC receives a number of imaginative and creative late filing excuses, with most recent ones including:


  • 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

As well as the excuses, some taxpayers have claimed some questionable expenses:

  • 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

Needless to say, all of the above excuses and expense claims fell flat on their face.

Angela McDonald, HMRC Director General of Customer Services, said:

“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.”


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