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HMRC Reveals Worst Excuses for Late Tax Returns

Written by: Keith Tully

Reviewed: Friday 15th January, 2016

HM Revenues & Customs (HMRC) has revealed a definitive list of what its experts consider to be the worst excuses for being late in sending in tax returns.

The body responsible for gathering tax information on all self-employed people throughout the UK has compiled and published its list ahead of this year’s January 31st deadline and it makes for interesting reading.

Apparently in no particular order, HMRC tells the tales of 10 individuals who all failed to get their tax returns in on time and whose appeals against resulting penalties were unsuccessful.

Three of the 10 excuses involve individuals blaming members of their own families for their tax return tardiness, with one woman explaining that her husband ran over her laptop, another saying he had an argument with his wife and went to Italy for five years and a third blaming an untidy niece for his misplacing of his online log in details.

Several other top 10 excuses involve illness, with one person telling HMRC that they couldn’t get their tax return in on time because they “had a cold which took a long time to go”, while another said their best efforts were scuppered when their accountant was taken ill.

Among the other top excuses was a twist on a classic, with one late return being blamed on relevant paperwork being eaten by a family pet.  

And making up the numbers were two other individuals who saw fit to blame a broken laptop and a lack of internet access respectively for their late returns.

“We understand that life can be unpredictable and for those customers who have a genuine excuse for missing the 31 January deadline, such as the flooding, help is at hand,” explains Ruth Owen, HMRC’s director general of personal tax.

“My advice would be to contact us through our helplines or online, as soon as possible. But for those who are trying to play the system, while the rest of us do the right thing, the message is clear: submit your tax return online by 31 January or face a fine.”

As well as getting their tax returns in before the end of the month, anyone who was self-employed during 2014-2015 is also required to pay whatever tax they owe for that 12 month period by January 31st. 

Keith Tully

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Keith has been involved in Business Rescue since 1992, during which time he’s worked for both independent and national firms. His specialties include company restructuring matters and negotiating with HMRC on his clients behalf.

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